Book Review: Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach

I don’t know Caleb Kaltenbach. Not really.

I “know” him in the same way I know everyone I know online — we connected a while back on social media, and I’ve “liked” and “favorited” a few things from him in recent months, and that’s about that.

With the release of his new book Messy Grace, I’ve found yet another thing to like and favorite from this first-time (as far as I can tell) author. I promise you, if you give this book a shot, you will too.

“You and I are not called by God to make gay people straight. It is our job to lead anyone and everyone to Christ.”

Those two sentences are the thesis of this excellent book. Straight-shootin’, honest, challenging, and relevant–that’s what Messy Grace is. I have a sneaking suspicion that’s what Kaltenbach is. And that’s what makes this book so great. The author is obviously crazy smart, but he doesn’t come across academic. He’s devoted to Christ 100%, but he doesn’t come across preachy. This book isn’t great because it’s full of convincing research from a credentialed professor or because it is a collection of sermons from a guy whose Kingdom contributions all happen inside the walls of a church building.

Rather, this book is great because it’s written by a guy who has lived the content personally. It’s real. And yes, at times it’s messy. The content and tone of the book reflect the nature and conviction of the man who wrote it. You’re left loving them both — messiness and all.

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(Photo Cred)

Kaltenbach doesn’t present a massive amount of new material. There are other authors who’ve tackled this subject, for sure. What he does do, however, is speak with an authority informed by his experience that makes everything he says drip with authenticity and believability. It is the fullest explanation of the relationship between Christ’s church and the LGBT community that I’ve ever encountered. And in case you haven’t picked up on my recommendation just yet — you need to encounter this book, also.

No, seriously…that last link was to Amazon. Go buy it.

The one-liners are enough to keep you turning the pages, like a binge watcher up late at night thinking, “Okay…just one more episode…”

Kaltenbach packs a punch with these assumption-challenging statements:

  • “The most effective evangelism with people who make you feel uncomfortable takes place within the context of a relationship.”
  • “The church should be the first place someone would go to (air their dirty laundry).”
  • “Churches that ignore the issues of our current culture and stay in their safe bubble will eventually die — and they probably should.”
  • “The Christian community needs to own the fact that people are deep, struggles are real, and people are working through them.”
  • And I’m not going to list them here, because you need to buy the book and read it for yourself, but the series of questions that the author begs the Church to ask on page 165-166 had me squirming in my seat out of conviction.

 

On top of all that, the recommended reading in the back is worth the price of purchase and a gift in and of itself.

In a single, readable volume, Kaltenbach redraws the boundary lines for this ongoing conversation, virtually ignores the tired talking points (are homosexuals born that way, etc.), and paves a path forward for the church to live in the tension between truth and grace.

After all, the Kaltenbach reminds the reader, it is in that tension where love is most fully expressed.

After reading Messy Grace, I am convinced of two things:

  1. For the time in which the church finds itself, there is not a more important book that you could add to your bookshelf than Kaltenbach’s debut work (which is already topping Amazon lists).
  2. For this important book to be written, God had just the right man for the job.

Thanks, Caleb, for letting your story speak into all of our stories. I may not know you, but along with a fast-growing group of Christians across our country, I’m grateful for your work and commit to joining you in that tension where we’re all called to live.

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(Photo Cred)

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