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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-K032-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 25, 2024, from

Article Summary

Grace is a gift of personal relationship with God surpassing the powers of nature. Such relationship presupposes the relation every creature has with God as immediately dependent on him for its very existence and continuance, but goes beyond it in its distinctive personal character and the resulting more intimate dependence.

Such personal relationship necessarily depends upon some will or expression of will. The development of the relationship must be free in relation to what has gone before – it must in no way be necessitated. Therefore, if the relationship arises within some established natural system involving some degree of conformity to law at some levels of description (physical or otherwise), such a system and laws must leave some degree of indeterminacy. This allows the possibility that free actions, physically and psychologically contingent, should be among the ultimate determinants of what unfolds. For the workings of grace must always be free or contingent in relation to such a system of nature, concordant with and fulfilling nature, but working according to distinct principles – grace and nature are both equally God’s gift, but always distinct.

The notion of grace has no place outside some kind of theism. Implicit in Judaism, its explicit development has been in Christian theology, which sees human beings as radically dependent upon God not only for redemption from personal sin, but for any personal or ‘supernatural’ relationship to God at all. This emphasis on grace is peculiar to Christianity, although the general conception seems implicit in most theistic religions; it can perhaps be found in the more theistic forms of Hindu devotion, although it is absent from Buddhism and the stricter forms of Hinduism.

Citing this article:
Braine, David. Grace, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-K032-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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