Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels
Tullian Tchividjian. Crossway, $18.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-4335-0775-5
A man stuck inside the belly of a fish may sound improbable, even ridiculous. But in this retelling of the biblical story of Jonah, pastor-author Tchividjian (Do I Know God?) means serious business. Tchividjian, grandson of Billy Graham, creates a play-by-play version of this ancient tale to put today's audience at the scene. Drawn from a sermon series, the book employs typical sermon fodder—Scripture, descriptions of artistic representations of Jonah, and extended quotes from authors like Herman Melville (Moby-Dick) who have written on the subject. Through these interpretations, the reader discovers Jonah's characteristics—he is self-righteous, prideful, a work in progress—contrasted with the attributes of God, who is unwavering, all-powerful, and merciful. One can almost hear the author's voice rising and falling as he compares Jonah's reticence to contemporary human attitudes. The abrupt ending of the biblical tale may leave the impression that this well-loved character is no hero at all. Yet Tchividjian's animated, heartfelt homily will boost readers with the message that God's heroic grace is perfect.