Book Review: Transforming Grace
The back of this book proclaims in large letters: “Grace. It’s not just for beginners.” Bridges begins his book by comparing our spiritual condition to two different kinds of bankruptcy, Chapter 7 and Chapter 11. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is a temporary financial restructuring necessitated by becoming insolvent. Creditors give the company extensions on its loans, knowing that it will be able to get out of debt and repay them eventually. Chapter 7 bankruptcy, on the other hand is the death knell for a corporation. It has exhausted every one of its options, and nothing is left other than for it to be picked apart by the financial vultures. Bridges argues that most of us will say we’ve declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but we functionally believe that we really only need temporary restructuring. We live under a burden of guilt as we accept the grace of God for salvation, but then feel the need to work for Him in order to merit his continued favor and grace in sanctification.
The first six chapters of this book are spent establishing the fact that God’s grace is totally free in justification, and therefore is also entirely free in sanctification. The rest of the book is spent working out the tension between this tension. God does not give us grace because of our works, however He works through spiritual disciplines to allow us to receive grace.
While grace is not only for beginners, Transforming Grace probably is. No one in the Christian Living section writes easily understandable books dripping with grand truths about our God as well as Bridges. This book is perfect for a mature Christian to walk through with another believer who is just beginning to develop an interest in doctrinal things. And yet, this great strength of the book is also its greatest weakness. In order to remain easy to understand, the book is often repetitive and somewhat lacking in breadth. Bridges chooses to dissect one small slice of grace over wading into the deeper waters of Christ’s righteous life meriting grace for the unrighteous. For a book about grace, this is a surprising omission, as Bridges barely touches the One in whom the grace of God was made manifest to us.
These issues do not make this a bad book, it’s just how Bridges writes. Those who enjoy Bridges’ other books like The Pursuit of Holiness and Trusting God Even When Life Hurts will enjoy this book as well. If you’ve found yourself frustrated by Bridges’ writing style in his other books, you’ll find Transforming Grace to be the same.
All in all, this book is a very good fit for a discipleship group to get together and discuss. My church has been reading through it in our men’s discipleship ministry, and I’ve been incredibly blessed by the conversations that have stemmed from the reading. While I personally wouldn’t pick it up and read on my own, there’s very little negative I have to say about it apart from the personal preference of style. I appreciate how Bridges tackles a difficult issue in the Christian life, and this is one of the only books on the market that explores the absolute acceptance we have received into God’s family.
The Bottom Line: 4/5