Shawn Brace, Pursued
by a Relentless God

Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2011, 160 pages, US$14.99, softcover. Reviewed by Jennifer Jill Schwirzer. [Main Story]

Shawn Brace’s new offering, Pursued by a Relentless God, grabs the attention and pulls it through an array of readable, applicable, spiritual lessons, releasing the reader only after presenting a nearly irresistible case for the gospel. Who could ask for more? This book is a life changer.
 
Christianity distinguishes itself from all other religions by the titular concept of this book—that God lovingly pursues people before they pursue Him. Yet even believers lapse into viewing God as an elusive deity with a to-do list as long as eternity. This distortion needs constant correction. Pursued by a Relentless God serves as an important redirect for those of us weary of trying to get heaven’s attention and win its affection. With each flip of a page, readers relax into knowing that they are already known and loved.
 
But don’t expect in this book a nostalgic rehearsal of kindergarten Christianity. Shawn’s writing can be intellectually engaging, even rigorous. He regularly whips out new concepts, supporting them with sound exegesis, word studies, metaphors from science, and personal illustrations. My favorite was retrocausality, or the phenomenon in which the future causes the past. I know, it sounds impossible. But Brace convinced me it could happen, and told me why it mattered.
 
I can think of several classes of people who would benefit from this book:

People who have struggled with legalism who want to understand freedom and security in Christ better.
Emotionally damaged people, especially those who suffer the results of poor parenting, who need a heart-winning picture of the Father’s love. (Brace’s multiple references to his own family life really help with this. One illustration has Shawn hearing a praise band sing, “I’m lost without You . . .” He looks at his infant son and receives an epiphany. I won’t issue a spoiler here—read the book—but it had me in tears.)
Conservative Adventists who need to see how righteousness by faith can be preached courageously without the slightest compromise of doctrine.
And finally, pastors who need good, biblical, meaningful, well-
illustrated sermons (16 of them are in the book).
 
About Brace’s writing style: Being a personal friend of Shawn and his family, I’ve literally watched him grow up. It’s personally thrilling for me to see him find his literary voice. It’s unique. The way he plucks illustrations from personal life, politics, science, and history reminds me of Philip Yancey. The emotional warmth of his writing can sometimes compare with Ty Gibson or Max Lucado. But the regular-guy feel of his uncomplicated but precise explanations might be unique to Shawn. Thank God for his unpretentious writing style! It’s like a clean, clear IV straight into the spiritual veins.
 
Oh, and one more important aspect of Shawn’s writing is theological integrity. While he drives away at the central theme of the book—God’s unrelenting love for sinners—he retains respect for challenging doctrines such as divine retributive justice, substitutionary atonement, and the investigative judgment. For those of us exasperated with theological polarities in the church, who throw up our hands when standards and doctrines are made out to be incongruous with grace, Brace will become a treasured man in the middle.
 
Pursued is the product of the author’s own relentless pursuit of literary and theological excellence. He’s done what he’s set out to do. He’s written an excellent book about an extraordinary, relentless God.
 
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Jennifer Jill Schwirzer is a singer, songwriter, author, speaker, wife, and mother. She writes from Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania. This article was published October 20, 2011.




 

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