Many, may years ago when I was still young, I felt I was being led to be the preacher of a certain church I began going through all the motions sending a resume, sample sermon, meeting families and members of the church, preaching trial sermon s , and finally submitting to a vote of the congregation During the course of this process I met with a particular gentleman who also happened to be an elder in the church He was an older man, from a different generation, and was necessarily conservative in his theology I distinctly recall our meeting one day before I was hired We were sitting in a quiet room off of the main sanctuary talking with the door closed I distinctly remember his question to me What do you think about the gays Not, What do you think about Jesus But, What do you think about the gays This is all prefatory to my review of this book called Messy Grace I received this in the mail on July 21 and on July 22 made it my ambition to read it I did It took me about 3 hours because I underline and make a lot of notes I will just say, straight up, I love this book That s right I love it Now don t mistake my loving of the book for agreement with all things written in the book, but I think it is safe to say that by and large there is nothing in this book that I find theologically repugnant For this review, I m staying wholly positive Except for a couple of minor quibbles his use of the word gender as a synonym for sex , and a couple of generalizations, for example , I have no complaints at all about this book This is an important book that needs to be read because it strikes a beautiful balance between grace and truth and helps us apply both wisely in our relationships and witness to people who are different from us So while I understand that he is writing to Christians about the manner in which we relate to homosexuals, as you will see in my conclusion, it s really about how we relate to anyone who is different from us.So, a few points to highlight.This past Sunday our preacher made a statement that was utterly profound in its simplicity He said and I m paraphrasing We cannot build relationships with people unless we start them I couldn t agree with him The author of Messy Grace makes similar statements throughout the book One that I found helpful begins on page 31 It s imperative that we have grace for people while they are still thinking, speaking, and acting in ways we might not agree with And we need to overcome our own inner resistance to getting involved in a relationship with them A real mark of spiritual maturity is how we treat someone who is different from us 31 32, his emphasis Isn t this how all of us want to be treated Do any of us want to be outcasts from the church until we get all of our life together The church would be empty.Kaltenbach consistently calls us to evaluate this question of how we treat other people He is absolutely on mark when he calls the church to think differently about the way we treat those who are different from us those who happen to be on a journey that moves at a different speed than the one we are on I think it is fair for Christians to ask why someone would say, Christians don t like anyone who s not like them 39 Could it be that in some ways those who are different from us are in fact understanding and loving and compassionate than those of us who are called to be defined by those very things loving, kind, compassionate, and understanding Shouldn t this change Shouldn t the church be a place where people can be vulnerable and weak and loved Part of the pursuit is being honest with people, but doing so in a loving way 45 This theme is developed over and over again in the book He s asking us to evaluate who we are because of Jesus Has Jesus changed us Has he made us new or not If we are still stuck in days gone by ways of thinking and judging then might we not ask if we have really met Jesus at all Second, I want to add that by and large the author handles Scripture very well and does not shy away from the so called hard passages that talk about homosexuality He affirms over and over again the testimony of Jesus, Paul, and others So for example, he notes that nowhere in the New Testament, however, does God define acceptable sexuality as being other than between one man and one woman In fact, the New Testament specifically reaffirms the Old Testament s position that same gender sexual activity is not acceptable 86 He says later, Another way to say this is that Jesus had to chance to define an intimate relationship as being other than male female, but he did not 90.This book, so far as I can tell, is wholly orthodox which is a way of saying that he is not blurring lines in Scripture in order to spare people the truth In contrast to other books on this subject, he is not performing exegetical somersaults to make his point one way or another He is reading Scripture and talking about its plain meaning He lays it out for us and allows us to think on matters He candidly admits we might disagree with him and that he is still searching some things He is telling us what the Bible says But he is saying we need to be graciousmuch in the same way God demonstrated his own love for us in this while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us We do well, as Christians, to bear this in mind continually in our dealings with people.Finally, there is one thing that stood out to me as important and something that I think served to minister to the author and in some ways served as the catalyst for the writing of the book He tells in the book the story of his own conversion experience and he tells how his family reacted to his conversion to Jesus I wrote in the margin on page 118 that Caleb is saying we should respond to homosexuals about their sexuality exactly not how his parents responded to him about his faith Then a couple of pages later I read that the irony of this situation was that my parents thought I would disown them, when in actuality I felt as if they were disowning me 123 The point is that he did not like at all the way he felt when he was rejected for his faith in Jesus I m glad he remembered that feeling I m even gladder he shared it with us.Something tells me that this feeling stayed with him as he grew older and was trying to work through all the things he writes of in the book in particular, how is he going to treat others because of his faith in Jesus There is a significant lesson here for all of us who claim Jesus In America we experience very little rejection because of our faith, but maybe that s not the best thing at all We grow in our experience Caleb s experience of rejection taught him how it feels to be rejected and thus how someone else might feel if they are rejected I see God s brilliance here and I see a brilliant man who understood well the lesson that Jesus was teaching him Would that of us learned this lesson It might make us compassionate believers and easily accessible to those who face it daily.I love that he is open and honest about the relationships he has formed in life with those God has brought to him I love that this guy didn t write a book crying and moaning and complaining about his terrible life being raised by divorced, gay parents I love that this guy wrote a book that at its core is telling us to get over ourselves and get to loving people like Jesus did.I love that he is open and honest I love that he weeps and laughs and gets angry and is confused and is still searching I love that when this guy lost someone close to him, he had a group of people to weep with him I mean this when I say that this book touched me precisely because it is honest and unflinching and yet vulnerable and emotive He helps us understand that no matter what we believe, there are no easy answers and that there will be pain along the way But he also lets us see that we belong to a God of hope and mercy and grace and truth and love and Jesus.Let me tell you how much I love this book Here s the truth that I have figured out after a long time in and out of ministry this book isn t just about Christians and LGBT people even if that is the overwhelming paradigm being established in it It s about Christians and all people It s about the way Christians treat one another abysmally It s about the way we treat old people horribly It s about the way we treat young people dismally It s about the way we treat poor people dishonorably It s about the way we treat liberals ugly It s about the way we treat conservatives angrily It s about the way we treat foreigners condescendingly Frankly, it s about the way we treat one another all the time, in every way, in every circumstance We are not nice people when it comes too most people who are different from us I could tell you how I have been treated by the church when I was a preacher It s not pretty.I teach special education I have since I was removed from ministry against my will about 6 years ago You know what I have learned since I started working with students who have autism, Down Syndrome, emotional and behavioral disabilities, ADHD, and They all, all to a very large extent although not literally all, come from extremely dysfunctional, broken, and wrecked families Yep Almost without fail there is divorce, separation, jail, death, poverty, substance abuse, abuse in one form or another and And these are the people that God has called me to minister to not just the students, but the parents And you know what I have to do I have to be nice To all of them All the time Every day I can t tell the parents what I really think I can t make them all rich or fix all of their marriages But I say this honestly I have learned as an educator in public schools how not to be judgmental That s right how to love people, all people, any people is my daily objective Anyone who walks through my classroom door Anyone with whom I come in contact with I am an agent of God s grace in an often ugly environment.But it s not just about being nice while something else is swirling in my head It s about changing and actually becoming a different person CS Lewis describes this change brilliantly in Mere Christianity, chapter 10, Nice people or new men It s about being a nice person and not just about being nice to people Anyone can be nice, but not all of us are truly, genuinely lovers of people God takes these barriers of soft bigotry and hard prejudice and breaks them down like he did the dividing wall between Jews and Gentiles I truly believe this book, Messy Grace, will go a long way towards helping people not just be nice which is a nice way of saying being hypocrites but also to transform them into the sort of people who actually, truly, genuinely love people for Jesus sake, love people for their own sake This is what he has called us to do To love people, other humans our brothers and sisters in flesh To minister to them To bring the healing of Jesus into their lives when they are ready for it And to let God do his work on them when he is ready to do his work Christians need to stop trying to convert people s sexuality It isn t our job to change someone s sexual orientation You and I are not called by God to make gay people straight It is our job to lead anyone and everyone to Christ I believe God is big enough to deal with a person s sexuality 185.Well said Very well said.It will never be easy for Christians in this culture of I want to see results now But we can if we are patient, if we pray, and if we pay attention to the often subtle movements of the Holy Spirit of Jesus My prayer is that our Father will use this book to change the hearts and minds and attitudes of the church of Christ into such as we see in Jesus who welcomed all who came and never drove any away, who called all to repentance, who loved all right where they were but wasn t content to leave them there, who didn t condemn but commanded us to change.And this is the message to the church First First Jesus speaks to the church And we must listen.You will do well to pre order this book and read it prayerfully in one sitting You will be rewarded for doing so.5 5 starsImportant Book Author Things Where to purchase Messy Grace Paperback, pre order for 11.24 October 20, 2015 CBD Paper back, 10.99 pre order 10 20 2015 WaterBrook Multnomah Trade paperback, 14.99 pre order Author Caleb Kaltenbach on Twitter Messy Grace Publisher WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group Pages 212 ARC, page count may be different in final publication Year October 20, 2015 Audience Pastors, preachers, Christians, missionaries, elders, deacons, young people, old people Reading Level High School Disclaimer I was provided a free advance reading copy courtesy of WaterBrook Press via the Blogging for Books Blogger program Page numbers in this review are based on the ARC Numbering may be different in final publication. Sometimes, Grace Gets Messy Caleb Kaltenbach Was Raised By LGBT Parents, Marched In Gay Pride Parades As A Youngster, And Experienced Firsthand The Hatred And Bitterness Of Some Christians Toward His Family But Then Caleb Surprised Everyone, Including Himself, By Becoming A Christian And A Pastor Very Few Issues In Christianity Are As Divisive As The Acceptance Of The LGBT Community In The Church As A Pastor And As A Person With Beloved Family Members Living A Gay Lifestyle, Caleb Had To Face This Issue With Courage And Grace Messy Grace Shows Us That Jesus S Command To Love Your Neighbor As Yourself Doesn T Have An Exception Clause For A Gay Neighbor Or For That Matter, Any Other Neighbor We Might Find It Hard To Relate To Jesus Was Able To Love These People And Yet Still Hold On To His Beliefs So Can You Even When It S Messy Messy Grace Is An Important Contribution To The Conversation About Sexual Identity For Churches And Leaders Caleb S Story Is Surprising And Unique, And He Weaves It Together Compellingly He States His Views Clearly, Leaves Room For Disagreement, And Champions Love No Matter Where You Are In This Conversation Jud Wilhite, Sr Pastor, Central Christian Church To be added to every Christian reader s and all serious reader s essential reading list A well written thought provoking book about one of the most discussed topics of the day, from an unusual viewpoint Sure to be discussed and, unfortunately, criticized by those on both sides for speaking truth clearly I can t recommend this book enough. MESSY GRACE HOW A PASTOR WITH GAY PARENTS LEARNED TO LOVE OTHERS WITHOUT SACRIFICING CONVICTION by Caleb Kaltenbach is a powerful inspirational and insightful book about how we love people who are different from us It s about the messiness of grace and truth With uncompromising conviction, Kaltenbach teaches each one of us to hear the heart of God and to be the face of Christ in a broken world The call for mercy, love, grace, and compassion are written on every page and are both highly courageous and poignantly raw Michelle Anthony, author of Spiritual Parenting and Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family Messy Grace is pure truth spoken in love and will help you relate to every person in a way that pleases God Jack Graham, Pastor, Prestonwood Baptist Church Below are some quotes from this book that stood out to me Love is the tension of grace and truth The grace of God is bigger than any of us is willing to admit Ultimately it doesn t matter what you and I think It matters what God thinks The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost Luke 19 10 MESSY GRACE shows us that Jesus s command to love your neighbour as yourself doesn t have an exception clause for a gay neighbour or any other neighbour we might find it hard to relate to Jesus loved everyone without compromising truth So can we Even when it s messy By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another John 13 35 4 lovely stars Caleb Kaltenbach s story of how he came to faith in Christ while being raised by two lesbian moms and a closet gay dad is fascinating in its own right The biblical teaching on homosexuality and the church that he weaves through the telling make this a must read for 21st century Christians grappling with current cultural norms of sexual identity.Though Kaltenbach never strays from supporting what the Bible says about homosexuality he spends an entire chapter reviewing what both the Old and New Testaments say , neither does he minimize the difficulty of living by its culturally unpopular position The word messy probably occurs than any other adjective in the book Again and again Kaltenbach reminds us that God s dealings with all us flawed, sinful people is a messy business and a church s grace filled response to people within the LGBT community will be no different Messiness is what happens when you try to live out God s perfect grace as a flawed person in a flawed world Kindle Location 212.The book is easy to read Kaltenbach s tone is one of a fellow traveler who is on the road to the same place as the reader The narrative and teaching parts are interspersed in such a way as to maintain the story s pace and keep our interest In my opinion, several aspects of Messy Grace make it an important book Kaltenbach s unique perspective of having grown up in and thus understanding of the LGBT community His mom and her partner routinely took him to parties, marches, and Gay Pride parades Both sets of parents were devastated when he came out as a Christian an experience he likens to what LGBT folks experience when they come out to their families Kaltenbach s exemplary treatment of his parents Even though he didn t approve of their lifestyle, he never broke off his relationship with them, but instead loved and supported them through their ups and downs The pastoral perspective Kaltenbach brings to the issue As a pastor himself, he makes a passionate and compassionate case for the church to welcome, love, and care for members of the LGBT community In this department he also challenges pastors and church leaders to think through their responses to twenty questions that pose difficult but relevant scenarios E.g Would you allow a same sex couple to attend your church and If a man who had a sex change to be a women started attending your church, could that person attend your women s ministry and What is the plan for the student ministry staff and volunteers when a teenager comes out or expresses same sex attraction Kindle Location 2365 2390 Messy Grace is moving and timely Kaltenbach s insistence on supporting the truth of Scripture while maintaining a loving attitude toward LGBT individuals is an example of how the church can break down walls of denial, isolationism, verbal abuse, hatred, and fear even though the process is guaranteed to be messy.I received Messy Grace as a gift from Blogging for Books for the purpose of writing a review. I had high hopes for this book The subject intrigued me a Christian pastor who grew up with two gay parents not a same sex couple but a mom who left her husband for another woman, and a father who was closeted The first third or so of the book kind of irritated me Kaltenbach is not the best writer He sounds very young There are too many cliches, too many exclamation points and a bit too much sermonizing, in my opinion But it did get better in the second part Kaltenbach has some helpful insights and provides some good challenges to both the LGBT and Christian communities The theological insights are OK he is not a scholar, and he admits as much I didn t care for the title of this book eitherMessy GraceGrace is not messy It is very precise and intentional Therecipientsof grace are messy And broken And another piece of advice I d give to the pastor here, don t use the word messy over and over again It s better to illustrate the point than it is to repeat the same word It started to lose its meaning after the first fourteen or so times Having said all this, I did like the book I appreciated Kaltenbach s story, his honesty, and his charge to his readers don t assume so much love people the way they are you can disagree with people on fundamental points and still be friends, be family and give each other space to grow. This is a departure from my normal fiction fare, but a book that I have been keen to read since I first knew it was going to be released Finding the balance between loving someone while still standing firm in God s truth has been the cause of dissent within my own extended family, not just with same sex relationships but also with opposite sex relationships outside of marriage, and so I was keen to see how someone in such a unique position approached the issue.Caleb Kaltenbach has two biological LGBT parents They divorced when he was two, meaning he lived alternately with his mother and her lesbian partner Vera , both very political and active in the LGBT community, and his father, who didn t reveal his LGBT status to Caleb until he was out of college.It should be noted that this book is not a discussion of what the Bible says about homosexuality There is a chapter in which the author discusses the Bible s teaching on the subject and explains why these passages cannot be reinterpreted as liberal theologians have tried to do, but the book s focus is much on the need to demonstrate love, not hate, to those in the LGBT community The first half of the book focuses on the not hating part of the equation, including memories from Caleb s childhood of the way Christians behaved towards his mother and her partner The need to show love, not hate, has never really been in issue with me, and so this part was not really instructive so much as reinforcing what I already knew It did give me some insight into why relations are often so strained between Christians and the LGBT community.The latter half of the book turns to what the author describes as the tension between grace and truth While the author defines this tension as love he also tends to use the words love and grace interchangeably, and I would have liked to have seen this clearly defined In the end, it doesn t alter the message he hopes to convey We cannot compromise on God s word, but neither should we give up on a relationship simply because we don t approve of what they are doing or how they are living.The author also shares his thoughts on what to say or not say if someone tells you they are gay, as well as his thoughts on how those who are attracted to the same sex can honour God through celibacy or even, in some cases, heterosexual marriage not that there is any other kind I use the adjective here simply to make sure there is no misunderstanding He also encourages Christians to actively seek to build relationships with those in the LGBT community a suggestion that unleashes another whole book s worth of questions in my mind, particularly when he talks about mixing with the community in their own setting In the end I feel as though I was given plenty of what show love, hold fast to truth but not so much how Maybe I had unrealistic expectations After all, every person s how will depend on the situation they are in The author also freely admits that it can be especially difficult when a LGBT person in your life essentially says, If you don t approve, leave me alone As a follower of Christ, the truth wins regardless of the cost to your relationship with that person But he does encourage readers not to give up on that relationship be patient and persistent, open for reconciliation And pray.This is definitely a worthwhile contribution to the ongoing conversation on this topic, and as a testimony of one man s experience, it encourages Christians to walk that difficult line where love and truth intersect I just couldn t help wishing there was a little here to help me find where that line lies There are discussion questions at the end of each chapter which would make this an ideal book for study or reading groups wanting to explore the topic.I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in return for my honest review. My friend gave me this book to read, and being part of the LGBTQ community I figured I d give it a read I was disappointed that the author seemed to contradict himself many times At one point he says that homosexuals should not be treated like they re broken or that they need to be fixed, but then he suggests that the reader tells the gay person that they need to be fixed.I appreciated the fact that the author wanted to destroy the walls the churches built to keep gay people out and eliminate the us versus them mentality of all of it Personal rant I had to chuckle at the fact that he suggested two alternate options for gay people celibacy to all gay people which I had to chuckle at, or marry a woman anyway Like really Those were the two best options Not have sex for the rest of your life or get into a meaningless hetrosexual marriage Give me a break Just let gay people be gay Don try to fix them because they re not broken Let me repeat that last part GAY PEOPLE ARE NOT BROKEN A fascinating story, if a bit shallow The author s lack of theological precision was frustrating, though I suppose I ve been spoiled by the clear thinking of John Feinberg or Al Mohler on these issues At the same time, this book is a helpful reminder to be compassionate rather than combative, and to actively love the lost towards the Lord. If I could give this zero stars I would Not only does the author frequently lose his credibility by being insensitive to the struggle of actual homosexuals, but his empathy is non existent This book is harmful to young gay teenagers and encourages muted homophobia.
Caleb Kalenbach is the Lead Pastor at Discovery Church in Simi Valley, CA.Raised in the LGBT community, he was exposed to how some Christians treated the LGBT community, and grew to hate Christians In high school, he joined a Bible study to disprove the Bible, but ended up following Jesus instead Later, his parents followed Jesus too This is the subject of his first book, Messy Grace holdin
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- Messy Grace
- Caleb Kaltenbach
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