This is part of our No Longer Sola Series.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Orthodoxy and Lutheranism both believe we are saved by grace. In fact, Fr Andrew Stephen Damick says in his book Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy that “Orthodox can agree with sola gratia [grace alone] if it is understood to mean that it is God’s grace that does the transforming work of salvation.” (page 112)
Human nature is dynamic, not static. God’s grace is natural to man and in order to be truly and fully human one needs to have the grace of God. Grace is uncreated, that is God Himself, His activity and energies in our life. The presence of His grace in our life is not supernatural, it is the most natural and normal condition for man to be in. Grace is not an unnatural addition to being human or a juridical release from guilt and punishment independent of our humanity.
We have each received a fallen, death-bound human nature infected with the disease of unnatural sinful passions and other consequences from the fall of Adam and Eve, but none of us are personally guilty for what Adam and Eve did. Even in this condition grace is not foreign to us, the image of God was not lost to man. When we share in God’s grace we share in His energies that are active in the world, not His essence.
I was taught that God’s grace is the attitude or disposition of the Father towards mankind, His “unmerited favor”. The work of Christ on the cross caused a change in God, not man. This change enabled God to now be loving and kind towards men and finally to forgive because Jesus took the punishment from the Father that was coming to us.
Understanding the Biblical teaching on God’s grace found in the Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church was my own “tower experience”. Whereas Luther’s tower experience regarding the Gospel happened within the framework of the theology of indulgences in the Roman Church, the Orthodox understanding of God’s grace was outside that legal framework and a total revelation.
We’ve had a lot of sickness in the house of late and things have just been generally busy, so we have not been able to put up some of the posts we were hoping to get to in the last several days. But soon I hope to write more in detail about God’s grace, what the Bible has to say and how Orthodoxy has preserved the right understanding of the Scriptures with regards to grace and human works.
So, stay tuned for that! Oh and here's a bonus cute kiddo picture to brighten up your week. Christ is Risen!