Free of Charge

Miroslav Volf is a Yugoslavian born and raised theologian who now teaches at Yale Divinity School. His good writing, thoughtful approach, genial spirit and important voice has made him surely one of the most important theologians alive today. His book Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness and Reconciliation, has been widely reviewed, awarded and we have promoted it. It is not everyone who–from the land of the Bosnian war and ethnic cleansing and rape and diabolic violence–can write a gracious, serious-minded theological reflection on core Christian convictions and the practice caring for others, even enemies, and have it be respected by various folks in various schools of thought (just war thinkers and pacifists, evangelicals and more mainline scholars, etc.) It is one of the most important books we’ve stocked in the past decade and we hope you’ve heard of it.
His new one is now out, called Free of Charge and I have been itching to tell you about it. I’ve not gotten very far, yet, but it is beautiful. You may want to know it has been chosen by the always intersting Archbishop of Canterbury (Rowan Williams) as the 2006 official Lent book. I hope Episopalians this side of the pond buy it by the cases (not just because it is good, which it is, but because I love the thought of a liberal denomination supporting our more evangelical publishing friends at Zondervan, who have the US rights to this important work. I love a book that has a forward by Williams and a cover endorsement by John Ortberg!)
Volf here is breaking new ground, it seems, by rooting his reflections on social grace—the subtitle is “Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace”—in the core of the Reformation teachings about the cross. (He is a Luther scholar, after all.) He interweaves stories, powerful stories, and takes us into the vivid times when forgiveness was given (and times when it was not.) It is gently written, but yet is at time intense. It is about big ideas and inner formation.
How can we be people who can be giving, truly giving, and how can we build a culture of grace? As it says on the back cover, “Volf draws from popular culture as well as from a wealth of literary and theological sources, weaving his rich reflections around the sturdy frame of Paul’s vision of God’s grace and Martin Luther’s interpretation of that vision. Blending the best of theology and spirituality, he encourages us to echo in our lives God’s generous giving and forgiving.” Not bad for Lent, or anytime, eh?
Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stipped of Grace Miroslav Volf (Zondervan) $12.99

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