Title: From Good to Grace: Letting Go of the Goodness Gospel
Author: Christine Hoover
Publishing House/Publication Date: BakerBooks/2015
Genres: Christian Living; Inspirational Non-Fiction;
Number of Pages: 219
You should read this book if… You have ever felt as this woman did, when she “poured out her… thoughts of despair and worthlessness that had kept her relationally isolated, wracked with guilt, and so sure that she was a deep disappointment to… her God. She could not receive the gifts God offered her – grace, rest, the enjoyment of her children, his strength in her weakness, joy in life – but could only twist them into shame-inducing evidences of her failure. Her sin was so much in view and grace so far out of range that she could only hear condemnation.” (Page 199)
Theme and Message: The central message that will undoubtedly resonate with legions of readers is simply this: when we spend our lives trying desperately to be good, to be and do enough, and to live up to the standards we believe God has set for us, we are missing something important. Vitally important. Something called grace. But as Christine shares, “it’s pretty clear that God has another way entirely and it’s through the gospel of grace that Jesus talked about and lived and continues to pour out.” Christine goes on to walk with us through the processes of receiving God’s love, help, and freedom, then responding with love, grace, and hope.
Writing Style and Voice: There is no doubt that the author’s voice contained in each word of the book is incredibly sincere and heartfelt – the message comes straight from Christine’s heart to ours. Her carefully chosen words ring with a truth she has discovered for herself and longs to share with women everywhere. But her writing style is not short. In fact, it goes on about various points for multiple pages, winding through personal anecdotes and Scriptural interpretations without break. While the intent of most sections are clear to begin with, the words often seem to blend together and lose focus after several lengthy paragraphs discussing the same topic.
Structure and Organization: The book is divided into three sections – each containing three chapters – plus a poignant conclusion. With only ten chapters in the entire book, each one is therefor rather long. Additionally, the text is small and the sub-titles breaking each chapter into chunks are rather few and far between. These points make the readability of the book less than ideal. Although the real treasure is in the content, the formatting makes it difficult to get through the often-complex material.
Questionable Content: A main thread woven throughout the pages is the comparison between the ‘goodness gospel’ of self-reliant goodness and pride, and the true gospel of God’s love. For most people, references to the gospel usually denote the first four books of the New Testament – the records of Jesus’ life and teachings. In From Good to Grace, however, the vast majority of Scripture quoted does not come from these four gospels, but rather from various other books in the NT, often those written by Paul. While this may be a very minor point, some readers such as myself may find it slightly offsetting.
Conclusion: Christine Hoover’s words ring with conviction and sincerity. Clearly, she has experienced firsthand each of God’s lessons that she shares with her readers. It is true that the formatting of the book is difficult to read for long periods of time, and it is likewise true that the writing style within each page is a lengthy, winding one. But the truth of God’s word shines from Christine’s words as she strives to share His love and grace, and readers who slowly work through to the end will not come away unchanged.
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
To learn more about From Good to Grace, please visit Christine’s website or Facebook page!