Dr. Preston Sprinkle is director of Eternity Bible College’s extension site in Boise, Idaho. He co-authored The New York Times bestselling Erasing Hell with Francis Chan and is the author of the recently published Fight: A Christian Case for Non-Violence. His new book Charis: God’s Scandalous Grace for Us is available now. Follow him on Twitter @PrestonSprinkle
Recently, Preston took the time to answer some questions for Mister Preacher…
How did you get to grace?
As a Christian, I always thought I understood grace. It’s what gets us into the door of salvation. But oddly enough, it wasn’t until I starting teaching a college level Old Testament survey class that I really started to become blown away at the radicality and persistence of God’s grace. God doesn’t just unconditionally save us, but desires us on a relational level even when we’re not desirable. And His love is unbound, shameless, and counter-intuitive. It doesn’t fluctuate when we have a bad day–or a good day. He loves us based on what Jesus has done, not based on what we continue to do.
We’re told it’s gauche to toot our own horn, but what’s your favorite part in your book, Charis? What does it mean to you?
That’s a great question! Honestly, I think the chapters titled, “Whore,” “Tattoo,” and “Thug” are my favorites! Writing is like playing baseball. Sometimes you’re on and sometimes you’re off. Well, for whatever reason, I feel like God flooded my soul with favor when I was writing those chapters, and the messages therein still convicts, challenges, and encourages me.
Why do you think Christians are so afraid of grace? (or do you?)
Yes I do. Grace is risky. Grace means letting go of control and letting God do the work. Grace means you entrust good things to very bad people. When it comes to bad people, people will always prefer justice to grace. This is why I open the book with a story about a cannibal who had sex with 17 dead people. In theory, our doctrine of grace can reach such a criminal. But why is it then that Christians mocked his conversion? We speak of grace with our mouths, but we mock it when we respond with doubt over God recklessly converting a heinous sinner.
What do you think is the biggest thing we misunderstand about grace?
That’s a great question! I think most Christians believe (to some extent) that grace brought them to salvation. But it’s after salvation when they beginning to have a conditional, works based sanctification. I think most Christians believe that if they do good things they will be blessed, and if they do bad things they will be cursed. But this is law, not gospel. This is conditionality, not unconditional favor. God has blessed us and will continue to bless us based on what Christ has done and not based on what we do.
What are you reading, and why should I pick it up (after I finish Charis, of course)?
Oh man, too many things to list! I’m actually reading a great book by a Christian philosopher named James K. A. Smith called Desiring the Kingdom. It’s pretty weighty but oh, so good! I’m also reading tons of stuff on homosexuality, since that’s the subject of my next book. Now there’s a topic where Christians tend to front law rather than grace…