Grace is one of the central concepts in all of Christianity, yet also one of its most contested. What is it? How does it work? Do we as human beings have to do something first for it to perform its healing work? Can we even turn from sin without Grace first being extended to us? What, exactly happened in the Garden of Eden (literally or metaphorically) that caused separation from God (a Fall), and what are its effects on (or the state of) our souls that requires the transformative action of Grace?
Certainly, the concept of Grace is no less debated in Mormonism–or at least, as is suggested in this podcast, it is beginning to now enjoy more focused attention. Is Grace a substance/thing that fills in the “gap” between a standard of perfection that God sets forth and everything we can do on our own in showing our desires and faith? Is it the suffering in the Garden and on the Cross that satisfies the demands of an eternal law of Justice? Is it more like an event–our “getting it” regarding God’s love and our worth that leads us to transformation and a new life in Christ, one in which we yield ever and ever more fully to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, becoming godlike in our compassion for all?
And what about all the Grace vs. Works passages we find in both in the Bible and Mormon scriptures? Is Paul’s meditations in Romans about his own sinful nature and the need for Grace the key text for viewing Grace and our own human abilities to respond to God? What are alternative readings of those passages or others within wider Christianity? And, for Mormons, how might one read what seems to be the key passage in the Book of Mormon that declares we are saved by grace “after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23) in different ways? Is it really a temporal “after” (feeding into the God filling the “gaps” model)? Is this really what Nephi is saying? And does this interpretation even jive with other Book of Mormon passages on Grace?
All these ideas and many more are discussed in this terrific discussion among Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon and panelists John Morehead, Katie Langston, and Joe Spencer. We hope you’ll listen and then join in the discussion below!
An Other Testament: On Typology, by Joseph Spencer
Badiou, Marion and St. Paul: Immanent Grace, by Adam Miller (Continuum, 2008)
“His Grace is Sufficient,” by Brad Wilcox, Speech give as a BYU Devotional, 12 July 2011
The Continuous Atonement, by Brad Wilcox (Deseret Book, 2009)
Mormon Neo-Orthodoxy: A Crisis Theology (Signature Books, 1987)
Bonds that Make Us Free: Healing Our Relationships, C. Terry Warner (Shadow Mountain, 2001)
The Peacegiver: How Christ Offers to Heal Our Hearts and Homes, James L. Ferrell (Deseret Book, 2004)
Grace Works, by Robert L. Millet (Deseret Book, 2003)
Mormon Matters Episode 54, “The Atonement in Mormon Thought and Experience”
Mormon Matters Episodes 123–124, “Emergence Christianity and Mormonism”