Jay Bakker, The Grace Junkie

Grace has grown and changed in my life. I was always told the more I read the Bible, the more black-and-white things would become. And they haven’t; they’ve become more gray. But grace has allowed that to happen and not freak me out. I understand God’s love better. Grace is one of those things that continues to evolve. – Jay Bakker

God’s loving-kindness is that sure love which will not let Israel go. Not all Israel’s persistent waywardness could ever destroy it. Though Israel be faithless, yet God remains faithful still. This steady, persistent refusal of God to wash his hands of wayward Israel is the essential meaning of the Hebrew word which is translated loving-kindness. – Snaith

Controversy is a spotlight most don’t covet. Controversy can ruin your reputation, your ideas of others and especially of God. Yet Jay Bakker finds his salvation from religion through the rejection of the religious. Bakker shares with his readers his painstaking journey in and throughout the public eye and the stress of those who
were intending to help but rather created more wounds.

You would think someone who has experienced so much would walk away from anything that looks remotely like the very place he came from. But there is hope. Jay is an ardent grace-junkie. He drinks it. Shoots it up. Sniffs it. Loves it. He encourages everyone to do the same. Jay, through the power of personal narrative
introduces us to a concept of grace that seems foreign to a lot of the Conservative Right who tend to anticipate that grace has pre-existing exclusive expectations, but his vision of God’s grace is much like my own, which is: God loves and accepts everyone – unconditionally.

If the Right are right then God must either be wrong or He is a lot more reckless then we give him credit for. But, this is the God I resonate with, this is why this book is an important addition to an important ongoing deconstruction of faith. A God who loves without limits. This is the God we need to recapture, a God we need to revisit, the God who has been there all along, and through the dust and rubble, Jay recovers a glimpse of this God.

Like Jay, I agree with his tattoo: Religion Destroys. Religion has somehow become the new opiate for the masses. The thing we think we need to make us feel better about our problems, what I like about Jay in this book, is that he doesn’t pull any punches on the idealistic notion that everything will always turn out okay. Clearly he has experienced the opposite. But there is a tenacious spirit running through his work that defiantly proclaims, not high on a hill somewhere, but from the depths of his own history, that grace has the last word. It is his addiction to grace that is so alluring and draws in the reader.

If you haven’t heard of this kind of grace, get this book. If you have, read and be reminded what it feels like to be loved by a God who is just as much a grace-junkie as Jay is. If you don’t believe this grace exists, read this again and again until you do.

George Elerick is a cultural theorist, human rights worker, and author of the just-released Jesus Bootlegged.

Visit the Patheos Book Club for more resources (including an excerpt) on Jay Bakker’s new book, Fall To Grace.

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