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After graduating from eighth grade at a small Lutheran school (I was a Baptist, but they had let me in anyway), I entered ninth grade at a large public junior high. Early in the year, I made friends with three guys: we ate lunch together, exchanged books (one of them introduced me to author Leon Uris), joined the debating team. But I didn't know they were Jewish until one day, as the four of us were walking along, I heard someone say, "Here come the Jews" (and grasped that I had been taken for a Jew).

Why hadn't I realized sooner that my friends were Jewish? Ridiculous as it sounds, the thought had never occurred to me. Until that point, I had virtually no firsthand acquaintance with Jewish people. As the year progressed and I got to know my friends better, I learned a little more about their families, which ranged from thoroughly secular to moderately observant. And I began to brood.

According to all that I had been taught and readily believed, they were doomed to hell unless they accepted Christ as their Savior. It was one thing to say that in the abstract, and quite another in the case of particular individuals—friends to whom the world I was raised in, the world of evangelical Christianity, was utterly foreign.

The questions that began then tormented me for many years. At first glance, If Grace Is True, the new book by Philip Gulley and James Mulholland, would seem to be just the ticket for me and countless other Christians who have wrestled with such matters. If Gulley and Mulholland are right, I needn't have brooded. "If grace is true," they write, "it is true for everyone" (their italics).

Gulley is a Quaker minister best known for his tales of small-town life; Mulholland, who pastors an American Baptist church, has written ...

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hide thisSeptember September

In the Magazine

September 2003

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