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In this environ it might be expected that a discussion of grace will proceed into a lengthy discussion of sola fide, sola grace, and the other reformation distinctives which separate protestantism from the church in Rome. One might also anticipate that  an historical discussion could make a distinction that views protestantism as just Augustinian Christianity while Rome and Constantinople took an alternative direction. There are many here who are far more capable than I at exploring these historical and theological intricacies and nuances.  I will leave that to them.

My studies leave me with grace first as a relational characteristic. Grace is a relational attribute. That is where I see the old church as failing first and foremost. When grace becomes a manageable entity then control comes into play. But grace is, and must be treated with the adjective, unmerited or it is ceases to exist. Mercy may have conditions, but not grace. For those who saw Will Smith’s movie Seven Pounds, there was an example of merited mercy. He sought people deserving of his gift. Grace was missing.

Grace is also treated contextually.  The grace of God is a phrase common in the New Testament.  It seems that the church early-on misread this and though that it could manage this grace as though it was something which proceeded from God. What was missed, or at least lost its significance, was that grace is the context in which God has chosen to operate. Grace is the ribbon around the wrapping paper of mercy that packages the gift of salvation.

This is one of those things which distinguishes historic Protestantism from Rome and Constantinople. It is the feature of the Christian faith that I cannot part with. This is what it means, as I read theology, to be an evangelical. Real grace is the best news of all.

More on: Evangelicalism

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