Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s son Jay, a pastor of a hipster church that meets in a Brooklyn bar, gives an exegesis of the book of Galatians and urges the church to return to grace-centered theology.
I found much to admire in Fall to Grace, most notably Bakker’s firm grasp of the freedom that grace offers the believer in Christ. However, I just couldn’t get past his round dismissal of the book of James. Bakker would have us believe that the book was only included in the canon of Scripture in order to show us what not to do–and to offer up Christ’s own brother as an example of the leveling power of sin.
At no point does Bakker explain why James is in the book at all, or attempt to reconcile that book’s teachings with those found in the book of Galatians. That’s just sloppy writing. You can’t wish away the hard sayings of Scripture.
Even more frustrating is when he pits James against Jesus, without any acknowledgement of a commonly held view that the book of James is actually a collection of the sayings of Jesus himself!
If Bakker had actually wrestled with the paradox of “faith without works is dead” vs. “[salvation] is a free gift of God that none should boast,” perhaps he would have found more to agree with than not. At one point Bakker says that he quit drinking because he realized it was keeping him from knowing God in a deeper way. God’s grace in his life brought him to freedom from the bondage of sin.
In the same way, God’s grace in the believer’s life prompts us to perform works that attest to the presence of grace in our lives. Our works do not save us; our salvation gives us good works to do. A faith that does not inspire good works is no faith at all.
I went into this book with an open mind, but at the end of the day I am just too Reformed to let Bakker’s superficial theology off the hook.
Many thanks to NetGalley and FaithWords for the review e-copy.