I just this minute finished reading Jay Bakker’s Fall To Grace and feel I need to say publicly what I have said privately to Jay on several occasions: “Jay, you’re basically a Lutheran” to which Jay generally responds “Wow, thanks!”. As a matter of fact, I’m tempted to now give people Jay’s book when they want to know what distinguishes a Lutheran theological position from that of other forms of Christianity. The difference of course is that we are all about grace. And not a dry dusty doctrine of grace. Big wet juicy grace. The kind that runs down your chin like a peach you have to eat over the kitchen sink. And it takes real good sinner, someone with a lot to be forgiven of to really chomp into this kind of grace. Jay is that kind of sinner. (“sinner”, of course, being a term of affection). No wonder Jay loves St Paul so much, a guy who was the best of the best at being the worst of the worst. I love how Jay dives into Paul’s letter to the Galatians along with Luther’s commentary on the letter and he doesn’t come up for air until he has a firm grip on grace and then he holds on to it with all he’s got. I’ve yet to meet an Evangelical who had as robust and unyielding grasp on the concept of grace as Jay Bakker.
Perhaps my favorite point made by Bakker in Fall to Grace surrounds the idea of how focusing on what we think our part is in earning salvation and not on the big fat juicy grace of God portrays a false and damaging image of God to the world. Jay claims that most Christians don’t believe in the sufficiency of God’s grace, they believe in a “practice called ‘grace plus’ (grace + not listening to sinful music = salvation. Grace + abstaining from sex = salvation)” and that “when we make up rules that have no basis in Christ’s teaching we play fast and loose with God’s reputation”.
From one heavily tattooed recovering alcoholic grace-junkie preacher to another: “Well done my brother, well done”. I’ll get that “Honorary Lutheran” t-shirt in the mail to you ASAP.
Nadia Bolz-Weber is the Pastor at House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, CO. She blogs at www.sarcasticlutheran.com.
For more resources on Jay Bakker’s new book, including an excerpt, visit the Patheos Book Club here.