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After the best conference I ever attended, with two serious theologians [each] from the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Evangelical, and mainline Protestant churches staying all week and talking about their differences and agreements, in a frank and candid but irenic and listening way, everybody constantly and naturally referring to things C.S. Lewis wrote about this and that. Father Joe Fessio got up at the closing session and proposed that we issue a joint statement of agreement and say that what unites us all, despite our serious differences, is scripture, the first six ecumenical councils, and the collected words of C.S. Lewis. Everyone cheered.
Let the cheers continue.
And that's a good question. The purveyors of the new look on Paul argue that second temple Judaism was a religion of grace but Lewis could hardly be blamed for not knowing of that. Paul also thinks the old covenant has at least hints of grace in it. You might find something like grace in Buddhism or sramanic Hinduism. I'm no expert but I think they say enlightenment comes neither by doing nor not doing. But I don't think you get a fully developed doctrine of grace in any of the religions with their roots in India. Perhaps you do though. Can anyone better informed let us know? What are your thoughts JB?And is grace, in fact, unique to the Christian faith?
I did just wonder if CSL's comment implied more than that Christianity was unique because he believed it to be true, and therefore that its concept of grace wasn't replicable.
Just exactly what is "grace"? I hear that word a lot, but what exactly does it mean?
In Chrisianity, we are supposed to be "saved by grace." Often, when used by those evangelizing that prhase is followed by "not works." Which often makes it sound pitifully easy to get into heaven.
When it is talked about the amazing grace of Christ, it is meant that the only requirment for salvation is "believing"--though it is open to interpretation what it means to "beleive." If you're an eternal securist (and most in my church are), you never have to do any thing else, you don't even have to obey God's law. If you think you have to, you'll be accused of "legalism" or beleiving in a "works salvation".
That is works in the sense of deeds follow faith but do not earn salvation. That is the basic Protestant position. Now here is the problem. You begin by seeing a problem. If we are saved by merit, even condign merit, then how can we ever know we have done enough. So you say we are saved by faith not works, our works follow salvation. But a century or two later and Protestantism is convulsed by widespread salvation panic. If works are the sign that I am saved how can I know that I am doing enough works to show that I am saved. Personally I don't think there is a theological answer to this; the answer must come in knowing God but in practice such knowledge is often fitful.'Faith alone justifies but faith is never alone'
Then he is seeing accepting Christ as a work of merit. Augustine said unbaptized babies go to hell because he saw grace being administered by the sacrament. Will theologians never stop wanting to put limits to God's grace?I had an argument with my pastor last SUnday. He beleives that infants who die will automatically go to hell precisely because they are too young to accept Christ.
If we are saved only through Jesus, that could actually happen in a number of ways. Christ could let us into heaven just because he wants to, or He might require us (at those capable of accepting him) to beleive in him first. Or He might require works as well. In all cases we are saved through Him. Actually, the teachings of Christ are full of the importance of helping the less fortunate, which most of modern christianity tends to ignore or sweep under the carpet when talking about "God's grace."
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