Paul F. M Zahl’s book, Grace in Practice: A Theology of Everyday Life – Part 5: On why the world and religious people have​ a hard time with grace

2 min read

It is not only the world that detests grace. The Christian world also finds the absolution of grace to be a bitter pill. Every time you preach or embody grace, some Christians will accuse you of “antinomianism,” the idea that you are against the law.

At the root of the finger pointing is the fear that if grace is given to a sinner, the sinner is going to take advantage of the amnesty and do a bad thing. This is the fear of antinomianism, the conviction that grace equals permissiveness. On this view, grace is against the law.

Why do religious people have a hard time with grace?

Why do religious people have a hard time with grace? People come to faith during times of trouble. Even if they grew up in church or had a religious experience as a teenager, they usually come to faith during a period of trouble. A specific problem in life leads them to question or to look at God in a new way. Sometimes it prompts them to read something or go to church or talk to somebody they respect. A time of trouble leads them toward the grace of God. But right after they receive this grace, they get punished with the law again. The church punishes them with the law. Here lies the problem, an unburied one. You could put it this way: The law, the stress of life driving you to a breakdown, reduces you to a walking question mark. The question is answered, amazingly, by God’s one-way love. Grace changes everything. 

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Paul F. M Zahl’s book, Grace in Practice: A Theology of Everyday Life – Part 4: On original sin and imputation

1 min read

Original sin is the idea that every woman and every man who has ever been born is infected in their DNA with a tendency to think the wrong and do the wrong. Original sin is the universal tendency in people to look out solely for themselves to such an extent that when they are on the defensive they become violent and libidinal. 

Grace is listening to another person without bringing the conversation back to you. Original sin is listening to the other and compulsively, unconsciously bringing it back to you. You can’t help yourself. Perhaps you have never even thought about it this way. This taking turns talking is an automatic-pilot response. The fact that it is unconscious makes it a prime example of original sin.

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