Paul L. Caron

Sunday, December 30, 2018

NY Times: The Uncommon Power Of Grace

New York Times op-ed:  The Uncommon Power of Grace, by Peter Wehner (Ethics and Public Policy Center):

In his book What’s So Amazing About Grace? Philip Yancey describes a conference on comparative religions where experts from around the world debated which belief, if any, was unique to the Christian faith. C.S. Lewis happened to enter the room during the discussion. When he was told the topic was Christianity’s unique contribution among world religions, Lewis responded: “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.”

Lewis was right. No other religion places grace at its theological center. It was a revolutionary idea; as Mr. Yancey puts it, grace “seems to go against every instinct of humanity.” We are naturally drawn to covenants and karma, to cause and effect, to earning what we receive.

Grace is different. It is the unmerited favor of God, unconditional love given to the undeserving. It’s a difficult concept to understand because it isn’t entirely rational. “Grace defies reason and logic,” as Bono, the lead singer of U2, put it. “Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions.”

There’s a radical equality at the core of grace. None of us are deserving of God’s grace, so it’s not dependent on social status, wealth or intelligence. There is equality between kings and peasants, the prominent and the unheralded, rule followers and rule breakers. ...

When I recently asked Jonathan how, as a nonbeliever, he understood grace and why it inspires us when we see it in others, he told me that grace is “some combination of generosity and magnanimity, kindness and forgiveness, and empathy — all above the ordinary call of duty, and bestowed even (or especially?) when not particularly earned.” We see it demonstrated in heroic ways and in small, everyday contexts, he said. “But I guess, regardless of the context, it’s always at least a little unexpected and out of the ordinary.”

A lot like if the incarnate deity, veiled in flesh, were born in a manger in Bethlehem.

I have previously written about how the line "a grace too powerful to name" in the song It's Quiet Uptown (lyrics) sparked my obsession with interest in HamiltonC.S. Lewis & Lin-Manuel Miranda: How I Found My Faith In Mere Christianity And Deepened It In Hamilton (July 24, 2017).

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As brilliant as C.S. Lewis apparently was at the time he gave that response, he had an obvious dearth of knowledge regarding Judaism’s constant and continuous call to unequivocally thank G-d for, amongst a slew of other things, being, health, consciousness, strength, nourishment and the Torah itself. C.S. Lewis’s environment was not one in which there were practicing Jews, despite the fact that he his second marriage was to a converted Jew and his son David, converted to Judaism and actually became an Orthodox practitioner, to whom C.S. provided kosher food. Judaism does not call it “grace” and C.S. Lewis was probably not buddies with (m)any knowledgeable, observant Jews but call it what you will, grace is not unique to Christianity.

Posted by: leonard fuld | Dec 31, 2018 7:12:19 AM

Very beautiful thought

Posted by: Mike Livingston | Dec 31, 2018 3:11:49 AM