Book Review | A Gentle Answer

A Gentle Answer by Scott Sauls addresses the question we have all been asking…”how did we get here?” Ever since the fall in Genesis 3, things just haven’t been the way they should be. Jesus came to begin the process of putting the broken pieces back together. As we read in Revelation 21, all the broken things will be put back together in heaven. Scott Sauls does a masterful job of using Scripture to paint a picture of what things could look like if Christians would commit themselves to helping turn down the volume by offering a gentle answer.

I highlighted several things while reading and have posted my notes below…

  • Jesus is a God of reconciliation and peace, not a God of hate or division or us-against-them (Ephesians 2:14-22).  He is the God of the gentle answer. p. xviii
  • Building something beautiful together will require participation from all sides. To those who are prone to injure, the call is to repent and to engage in the noble work of renouncing hatred and exercising love.  To those who are vulnerable to becoming injured, the call is to be participate in the noble work of resisting bitter and retaliating roots of anger while embracing truth-telling, advocacy, and forgiveness.  To all of us the universal call is to lay down our swords, listen, learn from our differences, and build something beautiful. p. xxi
  • It seems there are as many things to get upset about as there are things to talk about. p. xxii
  • Because Jesus Christ has loved us at our worst, we can love others at their worst. p. xxv
  • “What must happen in and around us to that we become the kind of the people who offer a gentle answer?” p. xxvi
  • Based on our instinct to share with others what brings us meaning, one wonders if the chief reason-or at least one of the chief reasons-Jesus gave us the Great Commission was to make our own joy complete. p. 27
  • Reasons for the shift in our culture:
    • First, many who currently oppose Christianity do so because of what they regard as hypocrisy among Christians.
    • A second reason for this cultural shift is that many in today’s society find the conflation of Christianity and partisan politics to be offensive.
    • A third and related reason for the shift from favor to disfavor toward Christians is that many people today perceive that Christians lack humility, approachability, and empathy. p. 31
  • To gain strength and courage to offer a gentle answer, we must first be flooded by the reality that we’ve already received one. p. 68
  • Have we become the kinds of people for whom resentment feels justified and a gentle answer feels insufficient? p. 142
  • There is something remarkable about the extent to which people were willing to forgive after they themselves had tasted God’s forgiveness toward them. p. 145
  • “I would permit no man, no matter what his colour might be, to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.” -Booker T. Washington, black educator and reformer, p. 151
  • Our problem, N.T. Wright suggests, is that we see ourselves as merely ordinary sinners, but we see others as extreme sinners. We are favorable to God extending lavish grace toward us, yet we are stingy when we discover that God wants us to extend his grace through us to someone else. As Miroslav Volf wrote in reference to the soul-crushing cycle of violence in the Balkan region, “Forgiveness flounders because I exclude the enemy from the community of humans even as I exclude myself from the community of sinners.” p. 157
  • If we are to be gracious, gentle people in our current climate, we must recognize that similar tainted and twisted motives reside in us as well. p. 168
  • We, too, are susceptible to warming ourselves at a fire created by the enemies of Jesus, surrendering our wills and ways to the tide of popular opinion. We, too, protect ourselves from having to take up crosses that Jesus-whose will and ways are counterculture to every culture-is calling us to carry in such a time as ours. p. 175
  • The gentle answer that comes from Jesus defuses wrath instead of fanning its flame (Proverbs 15:1). Within it resides the power to subdue fruitless arguments, break vicious cycles, turn enemies into friends, end wars, and change history. Within in resides the power of a future where wolves dwell in harmony with lambs, leopards with young goats, and lions with fattened cows (Isaiah 11:6). p. 183

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