Friday, September 16, 2016

Heather Jephcott writes

Love's Essentials = Grace

Let me tell you this secret...

It is by grace,
totally, thoroughly
and only grace
that I can smile and move
into the unknown future,
and rest content
in what has gone by.

It is by grace,
the measure given me
the supply unending,
like the sea.

It is by grace
that I want to move
in its beautiful covering,
my heart
swelling with its flavour.

 Reel Close -- Stacey M Schultze


  1. "Grace" is the English translation of the Greek term “charis” ("that which brings delight, joy, happiness, or good fortune") which the Sepuagent used for the Hebrew “hen,” which included the concept that those who show favor do gracious deeds, or acts of grace, such as being kind to the poor and being generosity; example of God’s grace included answering prayers. Christians understood it to be a spontaneous, generous gift from God to undeserving people to save them from their sins. The Catholic catechism defines it as "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." Among the principal means of grace are the sacraments (especially the Eucharist), prayers, and good works. But theological disputes over the concept have divided Catholics from other Catholics and Catholics from other Christians. In the 5th century, the British monk Pelagius, "grace" was the gift of free will, the Law of Moses, and the teachings of Jesus, since these were the tools that allowed people to perceive and follow the moral course of action; prayer, fasting, and asceticism supported the will to do good; all good works occur because they are enabled by grace. However, he rejected the idea that “original sin” (Adam’s disobedience to God) had extinguished God's grace in Adam's heirs, men therefore had the power to do good, to be virtuous, and to work out their own salvation. However, God was still necessary for salvation since he created every human. “God helps us by His teaching and revelation, whilst He opens the eyes of our heart; whilst He points out to us the future, that we may not be absorbed in the present; whilst He discovers to us the snares of the devil; whilst He enlightens us with the manifold and ineffable gift of heavenly grace." Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis (St. Augustine, bishop of Hippo Regius [modern Annaba, Algeria], referred to as “Doctor gratiae,” the Doctor of Grace) strongly rejected that framework due to his emphasis on original sin (mankind is inherently sinful); his response to Pelagius was, "Non possum non peccare" ("I cannot not sin"). Humans were too weak to accomplish perfection on their own, no matter how righteously they conducted themselves, their virtues could never make them worthy of God’s infinite holiness; they could no more endow themselves with grace than an empty glass can fill itself; men may have "free will" (liberum arbitrium) in the sense that they can choose their course of conduct, they lacked the freedom (libertas) to avoid sin Although he admired Pelagius’ character, Augustine arranged and influenced the Council of Carthage in 418 to condemn Pelagius’ views on human nature, original sin, perfectibility, and grace and upheld Augustinius’ views that death was due to sin, not biology; grace covers past sins and helps avoid future ones; grace imparts strength and carry out God's will; and no good works can come without God's grace. Thereupon, pope Zosimus condemned and excommunicated Pelagius, and he was declared a heretic at the 1st Council of Ephesus in 431. Nevertheless, his heresy continued for several centuries thereafter.

  2. The Eastern Orthodox Church, influenced by another contemporary hermit, Joannus Cassianus, holds that humans retain a moral sense that is unaffected by original sin and that they can attain salvation via free will, prayer, and asceticism, but divine grace is necessary for its achievement; the position is often called Semi-Pelagianism by its critics. The issues of grace and free will also motivated much of the theological debate between among Protestants and against Catholics in the 16th century and beyond. Martin Luther posited that salvation depended on faith and grace alone; all humans deserved damned since they were inherently sinful; good works should be undertaken out of gratitude, but good works alone cannot earn salvation and are not necessary for salvation, which comes about though divine generosity. Jean Calvin taught that original sin completely enslaved human will, leading to total depravity, but that God freely granted salvation to the ones the holy spirit had caused to believe even before the beginning of time; what he freely grants to some (the "elect"), he withholds from the rest (the "reprobate"), but nothing humans do could change their predestined category. Jacobus Arminius reaffirmed free will and human responsibility in salvation, in that people could reject the grace that was offered to everyone. In the 18th century John Wesley also rejected the Calvinist doctrine of predestination in favor of full repentance and transformation of character, especially in "Free Grace," a sermonhe preached in Bristol, England, in 1740. Humans were born with enough divine grace to enable them to accept “justifying grace” (conversion, being “born again”); people were free to accept or reject this gift or to abandon it once accepted. The Eastern Orthodox churches identify grace with the uncreated Energies of God. The Holy Mysteries (sacraments) are a means of partaking of divine grace because God works through his Church, not just because specific legalistic rules are followed; and grace is the working of God himself, not a created substance of any kind that can be treated like a commodity. Augustinus’ formulation of original sin, and John Calvin's conceptions of total depravity and irresistible grace, as well as official Catholic pedagogy derived from the work of Thomas Aquinas are all rejected. Human-divine cooperation (synergism) is necessary for salvation or healed from the disease of sin. Humans become deified in conformity to the divine likeness (a process called theosis) by merging with the uncreated Energies of God, particularly through a form of meditation.


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