Grace (Christianity)


Grace (Christianity)

In Christian theology, grace is God’s gift of God’s self to humankind. It is understood by Christians to be a spontaneous gift from God to man - "generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved"[1] - that takes the form of divine favour, love and clemency. It is an attribute of God that is most manifest in the salvation of sinners. Christian orthodoxy has taught that the initiative in the relationship of grace between God and an individual is always on the side of God. Once God has reached out in this “first grace,” however, each person has the option to accept it or reject it, and a responsibility for the continuance of the relationship, though the Calvinist idea of irresistible grace says that a person cannot resist the efficacious call of God to salvation.

The concept of grace has been called "the watershed that divides Catholicism from Protestantism, Calvinism from Arminianism, modern liberalism from conservatism."[2] The Catholic Church holds that grace is bestowed in a particular way through sacraments, while Protestantism almost universally does not. Calvinists emphasize "the utter helplessness of man apart from grace." Arminians understand the Grace of God to be cooperating with one's abilities and will. According to Christian theologian Charles C. Ryrie, Modern Liberalism "gives an exaggerated place to the abilities of man to decide his own fate and to effect his own salvation entirely apart from God’s grace." He writes that conservatism holds that God’s grace is necessary for salvation.[2]

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Grace in the Old and New Testaments of the Christian Bible

"Grace" is the English translation of a Greek word meaning "that which brings delight, joy, happiness, or good fortune."[3]

Grace in the Old Testament

The Septuagint translates the Hebrew word root meaning "favor" as grace, as found in Genesis 6:8 to describe why God saved Noah from the flood.[3] The Old Testament use of the word includes the concept that those showing favor do gracious deeds, or acts of grace, such as being kind to the poor and showing generosity.[3]Descriptions of God's graciousness abound in the pentateuch, for example in Deuteronomy 7:8, Numbers 6:24-27. In the Psalms examples of God's grace include teaching the Law (Psalm 119:29) and answering prayers (Psalm 27:7).[3] Another example of God's grace appears in Psalm 85, a prayer for restoration, for forgiveness, for the grace and mercy of God to bring about new life following the Exile.

Grace in Roman Catholicism