Monday, September 21, 2015
Book Review: Messy Grace Caleb Kaltenbach
Caleb Kaltenbach was raised in the LBGT community. He spent his childhood participating in Gay pride parades, and was shocked at the hatred shown to the people he cared about by Christians. He decided to go undercover to expose Christians. He began to attend a Bible study to learn everything he could about Christians, and then destroy their own arguments. It was in this environment that the most unexpected thing happened. He had an encounter with God that changed his life forever. He found the forgiveness of God, and a faith that would turn his life upside down. After his baptism he had to "come out of the closet" to his father, mother and her partner, that he had become a Christian.
Loving someone in the LBGT community is a delicate balance between conviction and grace. Caleb is starting a conversation that Christians must have. The approach that Christians have taken toward the LBGT community is hurtful and pushing hurting people away from the love of God.
I have heard that the church should be a hospital for the hurting. It seems too often that churches can be closed and rejecting, especially to the LBGT community. Caleb could probably be placed in the category of Conservative Evangelical. He is far from an "affirming" Christian, but he calls out biblical Christians, like himself, to think hard about their relationship to the LBGT community. Will we live the forgiveness that we have been given, or will we continue to surround ourselves with people just like ourselves? Caleb urges Christians to engage people that are different than ourselves. The true church is a real mess. It is made up of a bunch of broken people. We come to the altar of God with all of our ugliness. God takes that mess and brings us into a community of broken people.
We ought to live in the tension between grace and truth. The grace that God has extended to us, and desires for us to share with others, and the truth of God's word. Churches that live in this tension are going to messy. They may be filled with tax collectors and harlots, but aren't those the types of people that Christ would have surrounded himself with? The pews of our churches could be filled with people who haven't got everything together. They may be caught in the tension of God's draw on their hearts, and their own desire to be their own master. We have to be open to those folks, and love them. We must live honestly in our churches, so that others will know that we are just as broken and messy as they are. Are we willing to get our hands dirty, and open our hearts to people who are different than us?
I love someone in the LBGT community. It is hard to know how to handle that. I have been tempted to affirmation, because I see the nastiness of some Christians toward the LBGT community. I loved this book, because Caleb argues a middle ground. While never ceding conviction, Caleb offers challenging ideas to the way that Christians view the LBGT community. If you love someone in the LBGT community, then you should read this book. I believe this is a great book for Pastors and laypeople to read. There is conversation that we need to have on this issue. Caleb asks us tough questions. Are we willing to getting messy, in order to bring the grace of God to the LBGT community. I definitely recommend this book.
I was provided a complimentary copy of this title through the Blogging for Books Review program, in order to provide this review.