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Defiant Grace

By Dane Ortlund
May 2012 | Review by David Baldwin


When God-in-the-flesh showed up twenty centuries ago in Palestine, the religious PhDs rejected him and the prostitutes and social outcasts flocked to him. Why? Because the open welcome of divine grace that Jesus offered, open to anyone who would simply leave their moral resume at home, is not predictable. It is not safe. It is defiant. In this book, Dane Ortlund reflects on this defiant grace as it uniquely emerges in each of the four Gospel accounts. In each Gospel, the message and mission of Jesus is deeply surprising: - In Matthew, we see the surprise of disobedient obedience - In Mark, we see the surprise of the king undergoing the fate of a criminal - In Luke, we see the surprise of the insiders becoming outsiders and the outsiders becoming insiders - In John, we see the surprise of the Creator of the universe becoming one of his own creatures Such surprises confound our law-marinated hearts. But the good news that Jesus won with his own blood will not be tamed. This good news is defiant. This book exists to exult in this good news and the scandalous mercy Jesus loves to pour out on needy sinners--on people like you and me.

  • Publisher: EP Books
  • ISBN: 978-085234-751-5
  • Pages: 139
  • Price: 6.99
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Book Review

Defiant Grace -The surprising Message and Mission of Jesus

Dane Ortlund

EP Books

139 pages, £6.99

ISBN: 978-085234-751-5

Stars: 3


Left in neutral, all of us tend to slide away from the wonder of the Gospel’ (p.12). Defiant Grace is a very readable and easily digestible book aimed at everyday Christians who need to be reminded of the subversive qualities of God’s grace. In this regard, Dane Ortland’s book is one of a recent raft of books that encourage Christians to recalibrate their spiritual thinking by rediscovering the true nature of grace and re-establishing it at the centre of their understanding of the Gospel.

      The book is divided into four sections; each one highlighting an aspect of God’s upside down kingdom that the four Gospel writers seem to stress. I found the freshest material was in the first chapter on Matthew, where Ortlund points out the inherent little Pharisee growing inside all of us; especially well watered in our respectable, evangelical pews. The defiance of God’s grace is seen in Jesus’ persistent refusal to accept anything brought to him by way of religious contribution and his complete disregard of any form of religious ‘qualification’ (p. 30).

      Dane Ortlund’s style is engaging and refreshing. He isn’t frightened to use shocking turns of phrase to get his readers to connect with the ‘surprising’ nature of the Gospel, which he rightly describes as ‘counterintuitive’ and contrary to our in-built religious impulse. He occasionally seems to go too far and almost says things that seem to be ‘dodgy’ or false to the evangelical ear, ‘Sin, then, is not the problem. Sin exposes our need of the cross. Obedience is the problem.’ (p. 39) But In deliberately stating things in ways that sound back to front, Ortlund forces his reader to think hard about the wrong impressions of Christianity they have absorbed from Christian sub-culture and to bring Gospel scrutiny to bear on their default assumptions.

      Whilst this book is particularly suitable for anyone who already knows and loves God and his word, its jargon free style and homing impulse on the heart of who Jesus is and what he came to do make this a suitable gift for those keen to find out what makes Christianity so radically different from their own world view.


David Baldwin,




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