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If God Is Love: Rediscovering Grace in an Ungracious World (Gulley, Philip) [Hardcover]

Philip Gulley , Jim Mulholland , James Mulholland
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 303 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne (Dec 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060578416
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060578411
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 14.4 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,865,527 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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When I was younger, I thought beliefs were a private matter. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Are sequels always bad?! 4 May 2005
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"If God Is Love" is a genuine attempt to progress from their earlier book, "If Grace Is True", and it makes the transition reasonably well. Gulley and Mulholland take a look at different aspects of life (religion, politics, money, justice, etc) and apply the principles of Christian Universalism to them. On the whole the book is very good at what it sets out to do, but there were times when I felt they laboured the point somewhat. Maybe if the book had been 200 pages instead of 300 there might have been more focus to it. Saying that, I thoroughly enjoyed it, lapping it up as I did with their first book. Both authors write in a style that reminds you of Philip Yancey and so the book is easy reading while remaining profound and challenging. I am looking forward to their next contribution and would heartily recommend this book to my friends.
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  55 reviews
72 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If God Is Love: Rediscovering Grace in an Ungracious World 29 Nov 2004
By Leigh E. Fleming - Published on Amazon.com
Mr. Gulley has done it again!! His latest book defines what the Christian Faith should be!! A faith of love, acceptance, nonjudgemental and above all, a Christ centered belief. He articulates what many of us "real Christians" have known for many years that Christianity cannot be defined by the far-far Christian right!! Thank you, Mr. Gulley. You have given many faithful persons a wonderful weapon against bigotry, zealotry, and all the rest of the devices used by those who have decided to be God.
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It Will Make You Think 14 Jun 2005
By Michael Kear - Published on Amazon.com
I am not a convinced universalist. Yet. Both times I have read the books of Gulley and Mulholland I have been brought a step closer, though. Let me also say, though, that I do not believe in hell in the traditional sense at all. I understand the uses of the term in the biblical narrative (Gehenna, etc.), and I reject the idea of an ever-burning place of torment as uncharacteristic of the Jesus I know and the God I serve. Having adopted this position, the question for me becomes, annihilation or restoration? Gulley and Mulholland have chosen restoration as their answer.

If God is Love is the sequel to If Grace is True, in which the authors first posited their ideas on universalism. In If God is Love, they look at the practical implications of this view in the lives of its adherents. To me, the Christian Universalist has two attributes: 1) She is a heretic, and 2) She is an outstandingly good person who reflects the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.

This book is about the lifestyle of grace which believing in God's effectual love for all people brings into the life of the universalist. It's not about being wishy-washy and just buying everything that comes down the highway. It is about having convictions and opinions, but still holding forth the love and compassion of Christ to those of differing ideologies.

The two chapters on "Gracious Christianity" and "Gracious Politics" were worth the whole price of the book all by themselves. The description of the gracious Church harmonizes wonderfully with the inner symphony playing in my heart. "No one will arrive in heaven perfected - we will all need transformation. The Church, offering a foretaste of heaven, should be a place where people come to be accepted, loved, healed, and restored." The authors go on to describe the gracious Church as "a Church in which all men and women are expected to take their spiritual journey seriously, where each person's contribution is valued and where there is space for all to learn and grow. A gracious Church is a place to ask questions, explore new ideas, admit our struggles, and seek assistance."

The chapter on gracious politics humbled me. "To follow Jesus is to be political," say the authors, but, "Dualism, with it's division between the righteous and the unrighteous, offers a pattern too easily transferred to politics." We must learn to listen and not to demonize those we do not understand politically.

The authors are not afraid of being seen as fully fallible human beings with much growing to do. They are also not in the least afraid to tackle the most divisive and controversial social and religious issues (such as war, abortion, homosexuality, and the death penalty), always with the point of view which comes with accepting God's boundless mercy and grace to all people.

Like I said, I am not a convinced universalist yet. I'd honestly like to be. This book, along with If Grace is True, are both catalysts that are causing me to re-think my positions, re-study my Bible, and most importantly, re-commune with my Creator. Should I ever be convinced to step over that soteriological line, it will be on a basis somewhat more Christocentric then is presented in this book. But this book is certainly a push in that direction.

Dr. Mike Kear
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If God is Love 6 Mar 2005
By Stephen L. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have just finished reading this book and I must say it is one of the best books I've ever read. These authors capture the essence of the gospel and of God. What a marvelous thing it is to simply give in to the idea that God really is love. Those who feel the Bible is inerrant and infallible will have trouble with this because it is counter to their belief system. However, those who struggle with that in the Bible and about Jesus which point to the idea that God is love, both on this side and the other side of the grave, will find welcome relief here. I feel closer to God after reading this book than I have felt in a long time. How I will finally come down on some things discussed here, I don't know, but I have been given ample food upon which to reflect. I love the flavor of this book, because it matches the flavor I feel when I pray, and even read the Bible itself. Some of the reviews suggest the thesis of this book is not amply logical and thought out. I disagree. I think this is a thoughtful presentation of ideas which is extremely compelling. I may or may not come to complete agreement with the authors on everything, but the direction and flavor of this book is right on. God is indeed love. This is stated in the Bible. We have to choose that God of the Bible or the images of another kind of God, also in the Bible. The authors choose the former, as do I, because it most parallels the life, teaching, and ministry of Jesus. His message must be the interpretative principle of God and scripture. The Christianity presented here, that of inclusive love, is the kind that can could really reach people presently turned off, and it could affect the whole world as well. While some folks take delight in wanting people to be destroyed in hell, these authors take seriously the teachings of Jesus, His acts of ministry, and the cross itself. They deduce, "God is Love" (That's in I John). If God is the "same yesterday, today, and forever", what choice do we have but to reflect seriously on the possiblity of universal salvation.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life-changing stuff here, even for non-Universalists 28 Jun 2006
By Christy A. Robinson - Published on Amazon.com
I disagree with the author's theology of universal salvation, but wow. His message is the most revolutionary one since that of Jesus himself: there would be fewer wars, less poverty and less inequality in the world if we switched from a fear-based, saved vs. unsaved emphasis to one that mirrors God's grace.

I'd never thought about how the concepts of damned/the saved, God/Satan, heaven/hell can cause people, cultures and nations to form an "us vs. them" nature. Us vs. them is the basis of racism, xenophobia, sexism, elistism, greed and more. With this nature, the emphasis is conquer and defeat, I'm right and you're wrong, I'm good and you're bad. That dualistic nature clashes with loving others unconditionally, like Christians are supposed to.

The author also does a good job of dispelling the notion that more grace and less judgment would cause the world to spin into a free-for-all sin frenzy. It would be quite the opposite. When people think of God in terms of "if I'm not saved, he will send me to to hell," then any relationship they have with him is fear-based and they may or may not really care about making the world a better place. But when people instead choose to follow because they are moved by Jesus' message of love, then an authentic conversion has taken place. Being moved by love causes peoples' lives to truly change, not being moved by fear. You can definitely disagree with the author's theology and still be touched by this message.

You can't hate a guy who's trying to get everybody into heaven. But while Gulley makes humble, heartfelt arguments, the theology of universalism is simply full of holes. The big point is that he forces good Christians of all stripes to re-evaluate what is driving their faith -- fear or love? That's something that everyone could use.
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How you see God is the important question. 31 May 2005
By Robert H. Burton - Published on Amazon.com
If I could tell God the way I hope God would be, it would be much like the way the author's speak of God in this book. (Wanting to tell God what to does not put us in bad company, many, including Abraham and Jesus did the same.) Perhaps a more important question is not what God is like but what do we hope God to be. The authors very clearly express the hope that God is Love and that Grace is True. As they also point out, their view can be as easily proof -texted in the Bible as the view that that God is a vindictive judge. Using the Bible, we can make God out to be any way we choose. The question is, "which way would we hope God to be?" How would we tell God to run God's business if we could? Noticing what the authors have to say, as well as the attitude of some of the reviewers here, those who hope to see God as gracious tend to be more gracious themselves, while those who prefer to see God as judgemental tend to be more that way themselves. Perhaps our view of God says more about us than it says of God. Those whose hope is that God is love will value this book, those who wish for God to be a vindictive judge will not.
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