After years of avoiding this book because I suspected it would be too American or too simplistic (and because I found the title off-putting), I have finally begun to read it.
To some extent, I was correct. Philip Yancey’s style is American and simplistic. But the book is still worth reading. For one thing, it is a distillation of the author’s own reading. As such, it functions as a starting point, from which one might go on to read Helmut Thielicke, Victor Hugo or Simon Wiesenthal for oneself.
Furthermore, Yancey multiplies stories and examples to show what grace looks like in action. Some of these are admittedly cheesy, like the sentimental opening scenes of ‘Les Miserables’, but they generally get the point across.
Often, the cheese is a result of Yancey’s retelling, and is not present in the story itself. Such is the case of IRA-victim Gordon Wilson, who forgave his daughter’s killers in 1987 (p. 118).
Having said this, the central message of the book remains deeply warming and uncomfortably challenging. Grace is ultimately unfair, which is why we humans find it so difficult to practice.