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; and as an individual virtue or excellence of divine origin.
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”. Catholic doctrine teaches that God has imparted Divine Grace upon humanity and uses the vehicle of sacraments, which are carried out in faith, as a primary and effective means to facilitate the reception of his grace. For Catholics, sacraments (carried out in faith) are the incarnational or tangible vehicle through which God’s grace becomes personally and existentially received. Reformed Protestants, generally, do not share this sacramental view on the transmittal of grace, 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) 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).
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. 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.
In the New Testament, the word translated as grace is the Greek word charis (/ˈkeɪrɪs/; 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)”. 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).
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew term used is chen (חֵן), which is defined in Strong’s as “favor, grace or charm; grace is the moral quality of kindness, displaying a favorable disposition”. In the King James translation, chen is translated as “grace” 38 times, “favour” 26 times, twice as “gracious”, once as “pleasant”, and once as “precious”.
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. 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. One Hindu philosopher, Madhvacharya, held that grace was not a gift from God, but rather must be earned.
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.” 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.”
- OED, 2nd ed.: grace(n), 11b
- OED, 2nd ed.: grace(n), 11e
- OED, 2nd ed.: grace(n), 11a
- Gothard, Bill. “Grace and Faith”. Archived from the originalon 2012-07-21.
- Charles C. Ryrie, The Grace of God (Chicago: Moody Press, 1963), pp. 10-11.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 1127. Vatican City-State.
Celebrated worthily in faith, the sacraments confer the grace that they signify.
- http://www.saintaquinas.com/Justification_by_Grace. html
- Edward Schillebeeckx, Christ, the Sacrament of Encounter with God (Rowman & Littlefield, 1963), Foreword pp. 16
- “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 2009-11-24. Retrieved 2010-12-14.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 1992. Vatican City-State.
Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 1260. Vatican City-State.
- 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.
- 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.”
- “Strong’s Greek: 5485. χάρις (charis) — grace, kindness”. strongsnumbers.com.
- Strong (2001) Grk entry number 5485 (p. 1653)
- Strong (2001) Grk entry numbers 5486 and 5463
- Blue Letter Bible entry for Strongs Hebrew term 2580, Blue Letter Bible institute, retrieved 2011-01-01
- “Chen – Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon – New American Standard”. Bible Study Tools.
- Strong (2001) Hebrew entry number 2580 (p. 1501)
- Proverbs 11:16 and Ecclesiastes 9:11
- Proverbs 5:19
- Proverbs 17:8
- Descent of divine graceThe Hindu, June 30, 2005.
- venkatesananda. “Yoga Vasistha – Daily Readings – Swami Venkatesananda”. www.venkatesaya.com.
- Great Thinkers of the Eastern World, Ian McGreal.
- Bassam Zawadi; Mansur Ahmed, Answering Common Questions on Salvation That Christians Pose to Muslims, retrieved 2011-01-01
- “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, retrieved 2011-01-01
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