Bob Santos. The Divine Progression of Grace: Blazing a Trail to Fruitful Living. Indiana, PA: Search for Me Ministries, 2014. ISBN-10: 1937956075. ISBN-13: 978-1937956073. See here to purchase the book.
In The Divine Progression of Grace, Bob Santos argues that divine grace is about more than God giving undeserved favor to sinners; rather, it entails God empowering Christians for activity. When I first read that, I was expecting Santos to criticize so-called hyper-grace teachers, and I was bracing myself for feelings of condemnation and dismay. I am the sort of person who never feels spiritually good enough, and I thirst for God’s acceptance, notwithstanding my flaws. Consequently, I tend to feel condemned when I read or hear things from Christian teachers that promote Lordship salvation or criticize the hyper-grace movement. I was not expecting to like Santos’ book. But I ended up enjoying it very much.
Santos does criticize certain hyper-grace teachings, but his vulnerability about his own flaws, his insightful critique of legalism, and the hope that he presents for those who feel that they fall short balance that out. Santos writes from his own experience, recalling a time in his life when he felt like leaving Christianity on account of his struggles, and that experience gives him a compassionate perspective. There were times when I was confused about what exactly Santos was advising: Should I rest in the Lord and passively look to God to bear fruit in my life, or should I be actively working on my spiritual life and attitudes? Should I be obeying Christ, or is trying to obey rules legalistic and conducive to pride? If there is a common theme that runs throughout the book, however, it is that we should depend on Christ to help us to produce spiritual fruit.
The book also covers a number of other issues: baptism, sex, divorce and remarriage, cessationism vs. continuationism, and the question of how we can love everybody, with so many needs out there in the world. (Santos says we should find our calling.) Santos is a conservative Christian with strong opinions, but he humbly acknowledges the complexity of issues.
This was not a book that I could binge-read: I had to read it slowly, and I found myself writing notes in the margins—-notes of “Amen!”, and also notes of disagreement. (I think of the story about how Santos’ friend tried to get Santos to go to a church service one night by appealing to Hebrews 10:25, which tells believers not to forsake the assembling of themselves together; I wondered how missing one church service is forsaking the assembling of themselves together!) Santos’ writing style is simple, so going through Santos’ book is not like reading Kant or Hegel. But the book had a lot of thought-provoking ideas, so I found myself going through it slowly.
My reactions to the book varied by the day, sometimes by the page! Overall, though, I give it five stars, for I found the book to be an edifying read.
The publisher sent me a review copy of this book through Bookcrash, in exchange for an honest review.