In The Heist, Chris Durso presents the message of God’s lavish grace using the analogy of a thief stealing precious treasure to illustrate how Jesus took away our guilt, shame, and sin. The main premise of the book is that sinners desperately need God’s grace and God has already extended this grace to us through His Son. Durso retells the story of the infamous robbery undertaken by Leonardo Notarbartolo in 2003 to draw similarities between the meticulous preparation and execution of the crime to the incarnation of Christ as planned before creation and carried out covertly at the appointed time. The author also references the parable of the prodigal son as an example of how we are all lost and in need of the extravagant grace of God. Those familiar with the parable will understand that the prodigal’s story is a metaphor to describe the experience of how sinners finds grace through Jesus. The twist in the parable though lies in that the older brother who self-identifies as being righteous turning out to be just as in need of grace as the younger one. The greatest strength of the book lies in the author’s ability to present the gospel message of grace in a creative and engaging manner while being grounded in biblical truth. Moreover, I greatly appreciate how the author emphasizes the reality of our sinful condition and our responsibility to repent and turn away from a life of sin. At the same time, Durso reminds readers that we are unable to save ourselves and are doomed without the grace of God as extended through Christ. Holding these two truths in balance is critical to a biblical understanding of grace and salvation especially as wafts of antinomianism has been propagated in recent times.
However, one question that I would also like to raise is whether it is helpful to refer to Christ’s mission to save us as a heist. I am not too concerned with the negative connotations associated with a heist which the author himself eagerly defends against repeatedly in the book. What I am more troubled with is the necessity and usefulness of using a heist to capture the truth of the Incarnation. Except the chapter headings and a few details on how Notarbartolo was a mastermind thief who staged a grand robbery, the arguments in the book squares largely upon the parable of the prodigal son. Moreover, when we read the gospel accounts, we see that though Jesus aimed to be subversive in the early days of His ministry, His identity and mission is progressively revealed through Christ’s own words and actions. Jesus does not stealthily steal away our sins and die a quiet death on the cross leaving us to somehow search our way back to the Father. Rather, Jesus proclaims Himself as being the only way, truth, and life who comes to seek the lost in order to restore us to the Father. Naturally, I recognize that all analogies are imperfect and exact similarities are not to be expected but I find that using the term “heist” seems unhelpful given that the author is able to bring out the gospel message so well in retelling the parable of the prodigal son.
I would recommend this book to both believers and non-believers alike as the message of grace that is found in Jesus is necessary for all. Durso passionately urges those who still walk in sin to receive God’s unmerited grace that is freely extended to all. Despite how we blatantly reject God and head down our own sinful ways, the Father sends His Beloved unblemished Son to redeem us from the sin, guilt, and shame that we burdened ourselves with. Furthermore, those who have already experienced such grace should be eager to extend mercy towards those who are still lost by calling them to embrace God’s grace instead of casting them away like the older brother. For all who are weary and burdened by the stranglehold of sin in their lives, now is the time to awaken to the abundant grace found in Jesus who paid the price for our sins on the cross and covered us with His blood so that we can be justified before the Father and adopted into His family.
In compliance with Federal Trade Commission guidelines, I received a review copy from The Crown Publishing Group in exchange for a book review.