Weblog of a Christian philosophy student

Weblog of a Christian philosophy student. Please feel free to comment. All of my posts are public domain. Subscribe to posts [Atom]. Email me at countaltair [at] yahoo.com.au. I also run a Chinese to English translation business at www.willfanyi.com.

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A definition of grace

Christians often talk about how grace means that we don't and can't 'earn' our way into heaven.

Eph 2:8-9: "Because by grace you have salvation through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is given by God: Not by works, so that no man may take glory to himself."

Rom 11:6: "But if it is of grace, then it is no longer of works: or grace would not be grace."

Think about it. What does it mean for salvation not to depend at all on works? Are 'works' involved in salvation if people who don't care about philosophy at all are more likely to go to heaven - because they experience fewer doubts?

Are 'works' involved in salvation if someone is more likely to go to heaven should they be an incredibly trusting person who accepts whatever religious texts say? And if someone who is very cynical is less likely to go to heaven because they automatically doubt religious authorities?

Are 'works' involved in salvation if someone who is very nice is more likely to accept Christ, because following Christ is more appealing to them? Whereas someone who is an arrogant jerk is less likely to accept Christ?

My answer to all these questions is 'Yes'. I've thought about it a lot and I think that if these situations really occur then salvation has to partly involve works. Otherwise being philosophical, being cynical, and being a jerk makes it less likely you will get to heaven = salvation is partly of works.

So where does that lead us?

I think that if grace is completely grace, that this is the right definition of grace:

Grace: free will is involved, God wants everyone to go to heaven, and our personality and character traits don't put an obstacle in our way when it comes to getting into heaven, and don't give us an advantage over anyone else in that area, at any stage.

And yet, I should add, some people don't make it into heaven.

I'd rather not take Calvin's explanation given passages like Eze 33:11; John 3:16; Matt 23:37; 1 Tim 2:3-4; 2 Pet 3:9 and so on.

If you don't take Calvin's route then grace is hard, very hard, to understand from a philosophical point-of-view. I think this makes grace a lot like free will. Which makes sense if grace involves free will.

No one can get very far in explaining how 'can do otherwise' free will works. But we know that we have free will intuitively, we can act as though we have free will, and we could surely know how free will works through the Spirit, as a form of spiritual knowledge (1 Cor 2:12-14).

Similarly, we can know what grace is intuitively (like free will), we can act on the basis that we are saved by grace, and we can know how grace works through the Spirit, as a form of spiritual knowledge. But I don't know exactly how the definition I gave above (plus some people don't make it to heaven) makes sense from the point-of-view of philosophy.

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Anonymous Esteban said...

left you a comment at http://www.revelife.com/717161841/a-definition-of-grace/

-soy esteban


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