Divine grace

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Divine grace is a theological term present in many religions. It has been defined as the divine influence which operates in humans to regenerate and sanctify, to inspire virtuous impulses, and to impart strength to endure trial and resist temptation; [1] and as an individual virtue or excellence of divine origin. [2]

Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries. It occupies itself with the unique content of analyzing the supernatural, but also deals with religious epistemology, asks and seeks to answer the question of revelation. Revelation pertains to the acceptance of God, gods, or deities, as not only transcendent or above the natural world, but also willing and able to interact with the natural world and, in particular, to reveal themselves to humankind. While theology has turned into a secular field, religious adherents still consider theology to be a discipline that helps them live and understand concepts such as life and love and that helps them lead lives of obedience to the deities they follow or worship.

Religion is a social-cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements. However, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion.

Divinity divine mythological character

In religion, divinity or Godhead is the state of things that are believed to come from a supernatural power or deity, such as God, the supreme being, creator deity, or spirits, and are therefore regarded as sacred and holy. Such things are regarded as divine due to their transcendental origins or because their attributes or qualities are superior or supreme relative to things of the Earth. Divine things are regarded as eternal and based in truth, while material things are regarded as ephemeral and based in illusion. Such things that may qualify as divine are apparitions, visions, prophecies, miracles, and in some views also the soul, or more general things like resurrection, immortality, grace, and salvation. Otherwise what is or is not divine may be loosely defined, as it is used by different belief systems.

Contents

Christianity

Grace in Christianity is the free and unmerited favour of God as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowing of blessings. [3] Common Christian teaching is that grace is unmerited mercy (favor) that God gave to humanity by sending his Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross, thus securing man's eternal salvation from sin. Bill Gothard, an American conservative Christian, has suggested "God's grace gives us the desire and the power to do his will." [4]

God in Christianity is the eternal being who created and preserves all things. Christians believe God to be both transcendent and immanent. Christian teachings of the immanence and involvement of God and his love for humanity exclude the belief that God is of the same substance as the created universe but accept that God's divine nature was hypostatically united to human nature in the person of Jesus Christ, in an event known as the Incarnation.

God the Son in Christianity, the second person of the Trinity, begotten by God the Father, incarnated as Jesus Christ

God the Son is the second person of the Trinity in Christian theology. The doctrine of the Trinity identifies Jesus as the incarnation of God, united in essence (consubstantial) but distinct in person with regard to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

Crucifixion of Jesus Jesus crucifixion as described in the four canonical gospels

The crucifixion of Jesus occurred in 1st-century Judea, most likely between AD 30 and 33. Jesus' crucifixion is described in the four canonical gospels, referred to in the New Testament epistles, attested to by other ancient sources, and is established as a historical event confirmed by non-Christian sources, although there is no consensus among historians on the exact details.

Within Christianity, there are differing concepts of how grace is attained. In particular, Catholics and Reformed Protestants understand the attainment of grace in substantially different ways. It has been described as "the watershed that divides Catholicism from Protestantism, Calvinism from Arminianism, modern liberalism from conservatism". [5] Catholic doctrine teaches that God has imparted Divine Grace upon humanity and uses the vehicle of sacraments, which are carried out in faith, [6] as a primary and effective means to facilitate the reception of his grace. [7] For Catholics, sacraments (carried out in faith) are the incarnational or tangible vehicle through which God's grace becomes personally and existentially received. [8] Reformed Protestants, generally, do not share this sacramental view on the transmittal of grace, [9] but instead favor a less institutionalized mechanism. For example, in the Catholic Church, the primary initiation into a state of grace is granted by God through baptism (in faith) [10] instead of by a simple prayer of faith (sinner's prayer); although, Catholics would not deny the possible efficacy of even a simple prayer for God's grace to flow (Baptism by desire [11] [12] ).

Protestantism Division within Christianity, originating with the 16th century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be errors in the Roman Catholic Church

Protestantism is the second largest form of Christianity with collectively between 800 million and more than 900 million adherents worldwide or nearly 40% of all Christians. It originated with the 16th century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be errors in the Roman Catholic Church. Protestants reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy and sacraments, but disagree among themselves regarding the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. They emphasize the priesthood of all believers, justification by faith alone rather than also by good works, and the highest authority of the Bible alone in faith and morals. The "five solae" summarise basic theological differences in opposition to the Roman Catholic Church.

Calvinism Protestant branch of Christianity

Calvinism is a major branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tradition and forms of Christian practice set down by John Calvin and other Reformation-era theologians.

Arminianism Based on theological ideas of the Dutch Reformed theologian Jacobus Arminius and his historic supporters

Arminianism is a branch of Protestantism based on the theological ideas of the Dutch Reformed theologian Jacobus Arminius (1560–1609) and his historic supporters known as Remonstrants. His teachings held to the five solae of the Reformation, but they were distinct from particular teachings of Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin, and other Protestant Reformers. Jacobus Arminius was a student of Theodore Beza at the Theological University of Geneva. Arminianism is known to some as a soteriological diversification of Calvinism; to others, Arminianism is a reclamation of early Church theological consensus.

In another example, for Catholics, the sacrament of reconciliation (in faith) is the primary means of transmitting grace after a mortal sin has been committed. [13] Many graces are historically associated to the prayer of the holy Rosary; also, the tradition held by Dominicans reports of the fifteen rosary promises made by the Blessed Virgin Mary to Saint Dominic and Alan de Rupe in favour of Christians who faithfully pray the Rosary.

Mortal sin

A mortal sin, in Catholic theology, is a gravely sinful act, which can lead to damnation if a person does not repent of the sin before death. A sin is considered to be "mortal" when its quality is such that it leads to a separation of that person from God's saving grace. The sins against the Holy Ghost and the sins that cry to Heaven for vengeance are considered especially serious. This type of sin should be distinguished from a venial sin that simply leads to a weakening of a person's relationship with God. Despite its gravity, a person can repent of having committed a mortal sin. Such repentance is the primary requisite for forgiveness and absolution. Teaching on absolution from serious sins has varied somewhat throughout history. The current Catholic teaching was formalized at the 16th century Council of Trent.

Rosary Roman Catholic sacramental and Marian devotion to prayer

The Holy Rosary, also known as the Dominican Rosary, refers to a form of prayer psalter used in the Catholic Church and to the string of knots or beads used to count the component prayers. When used for the prayer, the word is usually capitalized, as is customary for other names of prayers, such as "the Lord's Prayer", and "the Hail Mary"; when referring to the beads, it is written with a lower-case initial letter.

Scriptural usage

In the New Testament, the word translated as grace is the Greek word charis ( /ˈkrɪs/ ; Ancient Greek : χάρις ), for which Strong's Concordance gives this definition: "Graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude)". [14] [15] Spiritual gifts or charismata which comes from the word family charis, is defined in the New Bible Dictionary as "grace coming to visible effect in word or deed." [16] A Greek word that is related to charis is charisma (gracious gift). Both these words originated from another Greek word chairo (to rejoice, be glad, delighted). [17]

New Testament Second division of the Christian biblical canon

The New Testament is the second part of the Christian biblical canon, the first being the Old Testament. The New Testament discusses the teachings and person of Jesus, as well as events in first-century Christianity. Christians regard both the Old and New Testaments together as sacred scripture.

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew term used is chen [18] [19] (חֵן), which is defined in Strong's as "favor, grace or charm; grace is the moral quality of kindness, displaying a favorable disposition". [20] In the King James translation, chen is translated as "grace" 38 times, "favour" 26 times, twice as "gracious", [21] once as "pleasant", [22] and once as "precious". [23]

Old Testament First part of Christian Bibles based on the Hebrew Bible

The Old Testament is the first part of Christian Bibles, based primarily upon the Hebrew Bible, a collection of ancient religious writings by the Israelites believed by most Christians and religious Jews to be the sacred Word of God. The second part of the Christian Bible is the New Testament.

Hebrew language Semitic language native to Israel

Hebrew is a Northwest Semitic language native to Israel, the modern version of which is spoken by over nine million people worldwide. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites and their ancestors, although the language was not referred to by the name "Hebrew" in the Tanakh itself. The earliest examples of written Paleo-Hebrew date from the 10th century BCE. Hebrew belongs to the West Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic language family. Hebrew is the only Canaanite language still spoken, and the only truly successful example of a revived dead language.

Hinduism

Hindu devotional or bhakti literature available throughout India and Nepal is replete with references to grace (kripa) as the ultimate key required for spiritual self-realization. [24] [ additional citation(s) needed ] Some, such as the ancient sage Vasistha, in his classical work Yoga Vasistha, considered it to be the only way to transcend the bondage of lifetimes of karma. [25] One Hindu philosopher, Madhvacharya, held that grace was not a gift from God, but rather must be earned. [26]

Islam

Salafi scholar Umar Sulayman al-Ashqar, dean of the Faculty of Islamic Law at Zarqa Private University in Zarqa, Jordan, wrote that "Paradise is something of immense value; a person cannot earn it by virtue of his deeds alone, but by the Grace and Mercy of Allah." [27] This stance is supported by hadith: according to Abu Huraira, prophet Muhammad once said that "None amongst you can get into Paradise by virtue of his deeds alone ... not even I, but that Allah should wrap me in his grace and mercy." [28]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Infant baptism Christian baptism of infants or young children

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<i>Sola fide</i> Christian theological doctrine

Sola fide, also known as justification by faith alone, is a Christian theological doctrine commonly held to distinguish many Protestant churches from the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Oriental Orthodox Churches.

Grace in Christianity aspect of Christianity

In Western Christian theology, grace is "the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not necessarily because of anything we have done to earn it". It is not a created substance of any kind. "Grace is favour, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life." It is understood by Christians to be a spontaneous gift from God to people "generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved" – that takes the form of divine favor, love, clemency, and a share in the divine life of God.

Westminster Confession of Faith Presbyterian creedal statement

The Westminster Confession of Faith is a Reformed confession of faith. Drawn up by the 1646 Westminster Assembly as part of the Westminster Standards to be a confession of the Church of England, it became and remains the "subordinate standard" of doctrine in the Church of Scotland and has been influential within Presbyterian churches worldwide.

The five solae of the Protestant Reformation are a foundational set of principles held by theologians and clergy to be central to the doctrine of salvation as taught by the Lutheran and Reformed branches of Protestantism. Each sola represents a key belief in the Lutheran and Reformed traditions in contradistinction to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. These Reformers claimed that the Catholic Church, especially its head, the Pope, had usurped divine attributes or qualities for the Church and its hierarchy.

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In Christian theology, justification is God's righteous act of removing the guilt and penalty of sin while, at the same time, declaring the ungodly to be righteous through faith in Christ's atoning sacrifice.

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In Christian hamartiology, eternal sins, unforgivable sins, or unpardonable sins are sins which will not be forgiven by God. One eternal or unforgivable sin is specified in several passages of the Synoptic Gospels, including Mark 3:28–29, Matthew 12:31–32, and Luke 12:10.

The means of grace in Christian theology are those things through which God gives grace. Just what this grace entails is interpreted in various ways: generally speaking, some see it as God blessing humankind so as to sustain and empower the Christian life; others see it as forgiveness, life, and salvation.

Sacred tradition, or holy tradition, is a theological term used in the major Christian traditions, primarily those claiming apostolic succession, such as the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Assyrian, and Anglican traditions, to refer to the foundation of the doctrinal and spiritual authority of Christianity and of the Bible.

Baptism of desire is a teaching of the Anglican Communion, Lutheran Church and Roman Catholic Church explaining that those who desire baptism, but are not baptized with water through the Christian Sacrament because of death, nevertheless receive the fruits of Baptism at the moment of death if their grace of conversion included "divine and catholic faith", an internal act of perfect charity, and perfect contrition by which their soul was cleansed of all sin. Hence, the Catechism of the Catholic Church observes, "For catechumens [those instructed in the Catholic faith who are preparing to be baptized into the Catholic Church] who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament".

Confirmation in the Catholic Church Catholic sacrament

Confirmation or Chrismation is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. It is also one of the three sacraments of initiation into the Catholic Church, the other two being Baptism and Holy Communion.

In the Catholic Church, liturgy is divine worship, the proclamation of the Gospel, and active charity.

Anointing of the Sick in the Catholic Church one of the sacraments in the Catholic Church

Anointing of the Sick is a sacrament of the Catholic Church that is administered to a Catholic "who, having reached the age of reason, begins to be in danger due to sickness or old age", except in the case of those who "persevere obstinately in manifest grave sin". Proximate danger of death, the occasion for the administration of Viaticum, is not required, but only the onset of a medical condition of serious illness or injury or simply old age: "It is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived."

Baptismal regeneration is the name given to doctrines held by major Christian denominations which maintain that salvation is intimately linked to the act of baptism, and that salvation is impossible apart from it. Etymologically, the term means "being born again" "through baptism" (baptismal). Etymology concerns the origins and root meanings of words, but these "continually change their meaning, … sometimes moving out of any recognisable contact with their origin … It is nowadays generally agreed that current usage determines meaning." While for Reformed theologian Louis Berkhof, "regeneration" and "new birth" are synonymous, Herbert Lockyer treats the two terms as different in meaning in one publication, but in another states that baptism signifies regeneration.

In Christian theology, good works, or simply works, are a person's (exterior) actions or deeds, in contrast to inner qualities such as grace or faith. In Judaism, a good work is also known in Hebrew as a mitzvah, and refers to a moral deed performed within a religious duty. As such, the term mitzvah has also come to express an individual act of human kindness in keeping with the law. The expression includes a sense of heartfelt sentiment beyond mere legal duty, as "you shall love your neighbor as yourself". Islamic theology holds that salvation is a combination of the grace of Allah and the works performed by the individual. On the Day of Judgment, if an individual's bad deeds are outweighed by their good works, he or she will be forgiven of all sin and then enter into Jannah (Paradise).

Catholic theology is the understanding of Catholic doctrine or teachings, and results from the studies of theologians. It is based on canonical scripture, and sacred tradition, as interpreted authoritatively by the magisterium of the Catholic Church. This article serves as an introduction to various topics in Catholic theology, with links to where fuller coverage is found.

Lutheran sacraments

The Lutheran sacraments are "sacred acts of divine institution". Lutherans believe that, whenever they are properly administered by the use of the physical component commanded by God along with the divine words of institution, God is, in a way specific to each sacrament, present with the Word and physical component. They teach that God earnestly offers to all who receive the sacrament forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation. They teach that God also works in the recipients to get them to accept these blessings and to increase the assurance of their possession.

Sacraments of the Catholic Church seven visible rituals that Catholics see as signs of Gods presence, consisting of those of initiation (baptism, confirmation, eucharist), of healing (reconciliation, anointing of the sick), and of service (holy orders, matrimony)

There are seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, which according to Catholic theology were instituted by Jesus and entrusted to the Church. Sacraments are visible rites seen as signs and efficacious channels of the grace of God to all those who receive them with the proper disposition. The sevenfold list of sacraments is often organized into three categories: the sacraments of initiation, consisting of baptism, confirmation, and the eucharist; the sacraments of healing, consisting of reconciliation and anointing of the sick; and the sacraments of service: holy orders and matrimony.

Sacrament sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance

A sacrament is a Christian rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites. Many Christians consider the sacraments to be a visible symbol of the reality of God, as well as a means by which God enacts his grace. Many denominations, including the Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, and Reformed, hold to the definition of sacrament formulated by Augustine of Hippo: an outward sign of an inward grace that has been instituted by Jesus Christ. Sacraments signify God's grace in a way that is outwardly observable to the participant.

References

  1. OED, 2nd ed.: grace(n), 11b
  2. OED, 2nd ed.: grace(n), 11e
  3. OED, 2nd ed.: grace(n), 11a
  4. Gothard, Bill. "Grace and Faith". Archived from the original on 2012-07-21.
  5. Charles C. Ryrie, The Grace of God (Chicago: Moody Press, 1963), pp. 10-11.
  6. Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 1127. Vatican City-State. Celebrated worthily in faith, the sacraments confer the grace that they signify.
  7. http://www.saintaquinas.com/Justification_by_Grace. html
  8. Edward Schillebeeckx, Christ, the Sacrament of Encounter with God (Rowman & Littlefield, 1963), Foreword pp. 16
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-11-24. Retrieved 2010-12-14.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 1992. Vatican City-State. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith.
  11. Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 1260. Vatican City-State.
  12. Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 1281. Vatican City-State. ... those who ... seek God sincerely and strive to fulfill his will, are saved even if they have not been baptized.
  13. Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 1446. The Vatican. Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance for all sinful members of his Church: above all for those who, since Baptism, have fallen into grave sin, and have thus lost their baptismal grace and wounded ecclesial communion. It is to them that the sacrament of Penance offers a new possibility to convert and to recover the grace of justification. The Fathers of the Church present this sacrament as "the second plank [of salvation] after the shipwreck which is the loss of grace."
  14. "Strong's Greek: 5485. χάρις (charis) -- grace, kindness". strongsnumbers.com.
  15. Strong (2001) Grk entry number 5485 (p. 1653)
  16. "Spiritual Gifts: Listed by Paul, Motivated by Love".
  17. Strong (2001) Grk entry numbers 5486 and 5463
  18. Blue Letter Bible entry for Strongs Hebrew term 2580, Blue Letter Bible institute, retrieved 2011-01-01
  19. "Chen - Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon - New American Standard". Bible Study Tools.
  20. Strong (2001) Hebrew entry number 2580 (p. 1501)
  21. Proverbs 11:16 and Ecclesiastes 9:11
  22. Proverbs 5:19
  23. Proverbs 17:8
  24. Descent of divine grace The Hindu , June 30, 2005.
  25. venkatesananda. "Yoga Vasistha - Daily Readings - Swami Venkatesananda". www.venkatesaya.com.
  26. Great Thinkers of the Eastern World, Ian McGreal.
  27. Bassam Zawadi; Mansur Ahmed, Answering Common Questions on Salvation That Christians Pose to Muslims , retrieved 2011-01-01
  28. "Chapter 15: None Would Attain Salvation Because of his Deeds but it is Through Lord's Mercy, Number 6764", Sahih Muslim, Book 39, University of Southern California center for Jewish-Muslim engagement, archived from the original on 2011-01-02, retrieved 2011-01-01

Sources