Grace in Practice: A Theology of Everyday Life

ISBN: 0802828973
ISBN 13: 9780802828972
By: Paul F.M. Zahl

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About this book

Long captivated by the idea of one-way love or Gods grace, Paul Zahl has often contended with accusations of being long on grace but short on law. Grace in Practice begins with Zahls response to the classic tension between law and grace. He then sets up the four pillars of his own theology of grace: humanity, salvation, Christ, and the Holy Spirit in the Trinity. Having discussed grace in theological terms, Zahl goes on to address the practicality of grace, developing a systematic theology of grace that is radically understood from the Bible and consistently applied to everyday life. After helpfully narrowing down specific fields of grace, asserting throughout that grace always trumps both law and church, Zahl concludes with an expanded view of grace in everything, extending this good news to all creation.

Reader's Thoughts

Nita Lovelady

Probably one of the most important books I've read. He causes me to think in ways I haven't. My heart resonates with his message.

Alastair Graham

Excellent conversational tone systematic theology. Paul Zahl eloquently unpacked grace... one-way love.

Bryan Robinson

This was a thick book about grace being our everyday way of doing life. So wich. Here were my favorite sections:1. “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Gal 5:1) Every word of Paul’s letter to the Galatians demolished the law as having any enabling or creative powers to get people to change. At the same time, every sentence of Galatians sustains the content of the law. The problem is always how to get there, how to effect what the law requires. Only grace does that.2. p73 - The irony of grace is not only that it sabotages any interview you might have with a Wall Street law firm but that it actually prepares you to do the best work you will ever do if you should actually land the job. For when the work is produced from natural desire and motive, rather than from the idea of actions resulting in proposed consequences, the best work is done.3. p87 - When grace is heard and received, when it is not confounded in any degree by the law, it paints a masterpiece: a person unconditionally affirmed who becomes instantaneously the expresser of love, joy, peace, meekness, kindness, and creativity.4. p91 - The law, the stress of life, driving you to a breakdown, reduces you to a walking question mark. The question is answered, amazingly, by God’s one way love.5. p142 - Everyone needs the same amount of love, which is 100% unconditional love, the one-way love of God.6. p145 - Grace ends competition (I do more than he/she does) in marriage. It demolishes self-righteousness and increases, past the Richter scale, the level of compassion required for love to exist, thrive, and continue.7. p180 - One-way love is wholly in the eye of the beholder. Because it stands apart from the receiver, grace makes no distinctions between receivers. Therefore, grace is an even distribution of affection.8. p180 - People who suffer from the bitterness of proportional loving, which is the law, are able to find an immediate alternative in the evenness of the love of Christ.9. p241 - The pastoral response is always the response of listening and passive reception. It is not the response of trying to fix things. Grace never tries to fix, but trusts God to do this. Grace listens.10. p247 - The theology of grace works. It relieves people of burdens and births a new view of their future. It creates the spontaneous and unself-conscious response of works of love. It engenders what the law demands. 11. p257 - I wish to stand in only one specific place, even if it continually moves. This is the place of God’s one way love and its imputing accuracy, which rescues the human situation in every case where it is given play. It witnesses no sector of human affairs immune to disease, but also none immune to cure.12. p258 - The beginning of wisdom comes when individual human beings put an end to the possibility of overcoming. Only then are they able to deliver their life over to God. If there is the slightest chance of a person doing it for himself or herself, God’s grace is made null. And the death of human hope in the death of God makes it possible for a person to trust the Outsider.

Andrew Barlow

Zahl is radical. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Not because I agreed with everything, but because sometimes you need to read an imbalanced book on the radical nature of grace. The chief weakness of Zahl's book is that it is so very scant on actual exegesis. He basically assumes a Lutheran framework, spends very little sweat proving it, and proceeds to operate out of it. That's fine if you're a convinced Lutheran, but not for me. On the bright side, Zahl stretched me to consider how transformative grace is in life. The Law just can't transform anything, but we still tend to make it do what it can't. Guilty. Thanks for the reminder.

Dan Slack

A lively read that explores why judging others is such a waste of time


The aim of this book is to emphasize something almost entirely foreign to the mission statements, programs, and focus of many churches in the States today, and subsequently, most American Christians. I highly recommend it!

Erik Bonkovsky

Really helpful and fresh view of pure grace

Ryan Holmes

Paul Zahl gives great thought into our everyday experience of grace. His clarity on what grace is and looks like is refreshing and redeeming. I picked up Zahl after reading Tullian Tchivigjian, 'Jesus+nothing=everything'. I appreciated Zahl taking the time to really deal with the tension we have between grace and law.


I had high hopes for this book, but I found Zahl's writing style to be very repetitive, so much so that it was distracting from his main point. Many of his examples and analogies were pulled from pop culture - the movies, books and tv shows - of my parent's generation, which made it hard for me to connect with them and understand what exactly he was trying to say. There were sections which were thought provoking. I doubt that anyone who reads this will agree with everything Zahl has to say, but at the very least he will challenge you to form your own opinions and think about various issues regarding grace and law.

Richard Fohrenbach

Absolutely fantastic. I thought I was "lucky" in life, Paul Zahl wrote about how grace is what I experienced. Life-changing.

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