Monday, October 22, 2012

Common Grace and Theodicy

"Calvin also formulated a doctrine of grace at work in the world at large, and distinguished between the grace of Christ, by which one became and remained a Christian, and a 'general' or 'common' grace to which may be attributed the restraint of gross sin. ... Later Arminian theologians rejected the distinction between common grace and the grace in salvation, seeing only a single divine grace held out to every person. They were, however, unable to dispose of the NT references to predestination and election." (Kearsley, 'Grace', New Dictionary of Theology, 280)

Observations and questions:
  1. Can we come up with better nomenclature for "common and special grace"?
  2. "Common grace" = God's gracious patience with sin and evil in general and magnifies his loving nature.
  3. "Special Grace" still makes we wonder about the place of evil in the lives of those who are elect?

8 comments:

Chris said...

Do we need better nomenclature than common and special grace? I feel like they sum it up pretty well? Can you explain why you have a problem with it?

Luke Isham said...

They just seem like clumsy terms but maybe it's better not to reinvent the wheel and maybe they sound prosaic because they are such foundational terms?

Steve Isham said...

Rescue grace? Amazing grace both.

Steve Isham said...

If 'rescue grace' can work for one, will 'restraining grace' work for the other? There is nothing 'common' about it, in one sense of that word.

Andrew Bowles said...

The difference seems to be whether one experiences the grace of the Son as the Logos or as the incarnate Christ, in creating and sustaining the world or in saving it. Perhaps then it could be 'hidden grace' vs 'revealed grace' (Ephesians 1 seems to talk about this movement).

Alex Smith said...

How about temporary restraint vs everlasting love?

It seems to me Calvin makes this life for many basically into "death row" (people are condemned with no hope, just waiting for the death penalty) - I fail to see how that even deserves to be called grace as God's real grace, His saving grace, is an infinitely greater thing!

Luke Isham said...

Andrew and Steve,

Both great suggestions "Rescue / Restraining Grace" and "Hidden / Revealed Grace". Exactly the help I was looking for.

Alex,

It's not the concepts I have a difficulty with just their nomenclature. (The same argument applies equally to Universalism, God temporarily tortures people for arbitrary and varying lengths of time when he could simply make everyone die at birth and go to heaven.)

Luke Isham said...

Andrew and Steve,

Both great suggestions "Rescue / Restraining Grace" and "Hidden / Revealed Grace". Exactly the help I was looking for.

Alex,

It's not the concepts I have a difficulty with just their nomenclature. (The same argument applies equally to Universalism, God temporarily tortures people for arbitrary and varying lengths of time when he could simply make everyone die at birth and go to heaven.)