Episco-Fact #154
September 5, 2019

Lots of Christians talk about grace. What is it?

Truly, grace is one of those words that Christians (Roman Catholic, Protestant, Reformed, Evangelical, Pentecostal, especially Methodist, and even Episcopal) use a lot. One branch of Christianity, Reformed (developed most precisely off the work of John Calvin) places it among its most cherished dogmas: Sola Scriptura ("Scripture alone"): The Bible alone is our highest authority. Sola Fide ("faith alone"): We are saved through faith alone in Jesus Christ. Sola Gratia ("grace alone"): We are saved by the grace of God alone. Solus Christus ("Christ alone"): Jesus Christ alone is our Lord, Savior, and King. Soli Deo Gloria ("to the glory of God alone"): We live for the glory of God alone." Episcopalians are less direct about these dogmatic statements but a close reading of The Articles of Religion (see BCP page 867) shows all of the above are there.

A more assessable explanation is from a gentle Reformed theologian and minister in the Presbyterian Church, Frederick Buechner: "Grace is something you can never get but can only be given. . . A good sleep is grace and so are good dreams. Most Tears are grace. The smell of rain is grace. Somebody loving you is grace. Loving somebody is grace. . . A crucial eccentricity of the Christian faith is the assertion that people are saved by grace. There's nothing you have to do. The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn't have been complete without you. . . I (God) love you. There's only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can only be yours if you'll reach out and take it. Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.