27 May 2007

Grace 2

One of the reasons that we worship and fellowship together with other Christians is to be reminded of the basics of our faith. I had such an experience today.

Wonderful Husband and I were having lunch with Real Life friends M, J and R. I credit this thought to my friend M, who will be reading this blog eventually (but who doesn't make a habit of leaving comments). Nonetheless, it's important to give credit where credit is due. Perhaps ultimately the credit goes to CS Lewis, who also said a similar thing.

M noted that he reckons there is one common theme that runs through 'offshoots' of Christianity. I don't know what word to use and probably some will be offended at being called 'offshoots' of Christianity. Movements like Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons or even the Masons. That one common thing, M reckoned, is that they jettison grace.

M reckons that grace is jettisoned because it is an offensive concept and I agree. I think that there are two ways that we can be offended by grace. Even though these two ways of being offended by grace are mutually exclusive in concept, I suspect that if we're honest with ourselves, in practice we all manage to be offended in both of these ways from time to time.

The first way of being offended by grace is to be happy when the grace is applied to us, but unhappy when it's applied to other people. So we're happy to get a full day's wages for 4 hours' work, but we're unhappy that someone else has got a full day's wages for 1 hour's work. We are sometimes guilty of wanting grace for ourselves and justice for others.

The second way of being offended by grace is being offended that we are in need of grace at all. Superficially, this can appear to be the more straight-foward of the two scenarios, but I suspect that it's the most devious. Because it's not just about us accepting that we are imperfect sinners who need God's forgiveness. It's about accepting that there isn't actually anything we can do to 'pay God back' for his grace.


Anonymous said...

Pam, I believe strongly that Grace must be received by Faith but it must be based on the Truth of Christ. Jehovah's witness, Mormon, etc. Teach "another Gospel" by teaching something that is truly not Jesus at all. Jesus was and is and at all times was God. Jehovah's witness say Jesus was a mere man alone and Mormons believe Jesus was only Spirit bith are "another Jesus" than what Jesus actually is. The Grace is made available to all and can be entered into by Faith and denying these "other Jesus's" and by accepting ther Truth of Jesus. This is entered into not only by mind but with heart, soul and mind. Grace doesn't condone falsehood, sin or anything that goes against Christ "What shall we say then shall we continue to sin that Grace may abound? God forbid!..." So for me the definition of Grace these days is too inclusive by giving people an idea of "I'm okay your okay" as opposed to actually recognizing that we all sin and need to accept Christ as well as repent of sin to receive the Grace that is made available to all. Grace is made available to all but entered into by Faith alone by ones choice to receive that Grace made available to all. This isn't being "offended by Grace" but truly recognizing what Grace truly is. Grace which condones sin or false christs is not truly Grace at all. Grace leads to truth not away from truth.

PamBG said...

You seem to be protesting that I was saying 'Do anything you like because God doesn't care'. That's a question.

That's the only way I can make sense of your post which doesn't seem to otherwise be addressing anything I think I said in my original post.

charlene said...

Hmm... this is very interesting to me, as I was brought up Mormon and have married into Lutheranism, so I've seen both sides... I would not say that Mormons jettison grace. (In fact, one of the passages in the Book of Mormon that is most quoted has a great sermon on grace and how if we did all we could we should still be unprofitable servants.) However, it is certainly true that there is much more of an emphasis on works than there is in traditional Protestantism.

I suspect you can go too far, either way. Mormons tend to err on the side of "if we do enough stuff, we'll be saved"-- that's not correct Mormon theology, but the focus on works does lend itself to that error. But I've also noticed that Lutherans may tend to err on the side of being too passive, and not giving enough credit to our God-given free will and how it interacts with the grace of the Spirit (and again, I know it's not correct theology to ignore that).

My favorite scripture on this, and this is clearly C.S. Lewis's fault, is, "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is at work in you."

anonymous, I don't really understand your comment, but in particular I don't know what you mean by "Jesus was only Spirit"-- no Mormon believes that.