Bob Santos. The Divine Progression of Grace: Blazing a Trail to Fruitful Living. Indiana, PA: Search for Me Ministries, 2014. ISBN-10: 1937956075. ISBN-13: 978-1937956073. See here to purchase the book.
In The Divine Progression of Grace, Bob Santos argues that
divine grace is about more than God giving undeserved favor to sinners;
rather, it entails God empowering Christians for activity. When I first
read that, I was expecting Santos to criticize so-called hyper-grace
teachers, and I was bracing myself for feelings of condemnation and
dismay. I am the sort of person who never feels spiritually good
enough, and I thirst for God’s acceptance, notwithstanding my flaws.
Consequently, I tend to feel condemned when I read or hear things from
Christian teachers that promote Lordship salvation or criticize the
hyper-grace movement. I was not expecting to like Santos’ book. But I
ended up enjoying it very much.
Santos does criticize certain hyper-grace teachings, but his
vulnerability about his own flaws, his insightful critique of legalism,
and the hope that he presents for those who feel that they fall short
balance that out. Santos writes from his own experience, recalling a
time in his life when he felt like leaving Christianity on account of
his struggles, and that experience gives him a compassionate
perspective. There were times when I was confused about what exactly
Santos was advising: Should I rest in the Lord and passively look to God
to bear fruit in my life, or should I be actively working on my
spiritual life and attitudes? Should I be obeying Christ, or is trying
to obey rules legalistic and conducive to pride? If there is a common
theme that runs throughout the book, however, it is that we should
depend on Christ to help us to produce spiritual fruit.
The book also covers a number of other issues: baptism, sex, divorce
and remarriage, cessationism vs. continuationism, and the question of
how we can love everybody, with so many needs out there in the world.
(Santos says we should find our calling.) Santos is a conservative
Christian with strong opinions, but he humbly acknowledges the
complexity of issues.
This was not a book that I could binge-read: I had to read it slowly,
and I found myself writing notes in the margins—-notes of “Amen!”, and
also notes of disagreement. (I think of the story about how Santos’
friend tried to get Santos to go to a church service one night by
appealing to Hebrews 10:25, which tells believers not to forsake the
assembling of themselves together; I wondered how missing one church
service is forsaking the assembling of themselves together!) Santos’
writing style is simple, so going through Santos’ book is not like
reading Kant or Hegel. But the book had a lot of thought-provoking
ideas, so I found myself going through it slowly.
My reactions to the book varied by the day, sometimes by the page!
Overall, though, I give it five stars, for I found the book to be an
The publisher sent me a review copy of this book through Bookcrash, in exchange for an honest review.
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