Theologians Diminish Grace

Satan has focused a lot of his deception on the word “grace.” Grace is an abused word. It’s possible another word carries more theological baggage, but I can’t think of what that word would be.

Theology is an attempt to make the simplicity of God’s Word, something the faith of a child can grasp, and make it confusing so you feel like you need the Initiated Few.

You know when you’re walking into Confusing Theology Land when biblical words start getting adjectives stuck in front of them.

“Will” is an example. “Will” simply means a desire. God’s will is what God desires. It’s quite simple.

It remained simple until theologians became a thing. Now it’s not just “God’s will,” now it’s God’s

Decretive Will
Permissive Will
Sovereign Will
Desiderative Will
Directive Will
Perceptive Will

There could be more, it depends who you ask. Also some of the above may be the same wills, I don’t know. I’m not a theologian.

All of this is just silliness. But the silliness doesn’t stop there. The silliness is extended to God’s grace as well. There’s not just “God’s grace” anymore, now it’s God’s

Irresistible Grace
Prevenient Grace
Common Grace
Sanctifying Grace
Salvific Grace

And on it goes.

Here’s the interesting thing, none of these adjectives before will or grace are found in the Bible.

If you look up grace in your New Testament (KJV anyway) and look for adjectives before “grace,” here’s what you’ll find.

Acts 4:33—great grace
2 Corinthians 4:15—abundant grace
2 Corinthians 9:14—exceeding grace
James 4:6—more grace
1 Peter 4:10—manifold grace

All of these adjectives tell you one basic thing: God’s grace is massively huge! When God describes His grace; He makes grace big.

When theologians describe grace, they make it smaller. They whittle away at the concept. They make it fit their particular theological point of the time.

This is where problems start. After a while, we’re not even talking about God’s grace anymore; we’re talking about some theologian’s ax he likes to grind.

Which is why there’s one more adjective used before “grace” in the Bible:

1 Peter 5:12—true grace

Watch out for adjectives before biblical words. Theologians use them to limit a subject, mostly because the Bible doesn’t speak the way they do about a particular word.

Don’t let theologians confuse you about grace. Keep God’s grace big. That’s how He describes it.

5 thoughts on “Theologians Diminish Grace”

  1. Reblogged this on Onesimus Files and commented:
    Another excellent and perceptive post on Jeff Weddle’s blog.

    Please follow the link and read the WHOLE article on the anti itch meditation site.

  2. Hi Jeff,
    I wrote the following on this same topic a few years ago.

    The word grace seems particularly vulnerable to the attachment of non-biblical adjectives. Some of these are the logical result of needing to make “grace” fit a pre-determined theology.

    The sister theologies of Calvinism and Arminianism each have their favourite: the former promotes “irresistible grace” as one of its foundational doctrines and the other relies on “prevenient grace”. Both of these brands of grace are presented as the means of escaping man’s “total depravity”*. Then Calvinism and Arminianism both rely on “common grace” to explain why man’s “total depravity” isn’t quite as total as it could be.

    A while ago I searched the scriptures to see how the bible described grace. From memory I found it described in one way: as “abundant” – in fact a closer definition would be “super abundant”: no sign of “irresistible”, “prevenient” “common” or even “amazing”.

    Recently I wrote an article on this blog about the terms “inerrant” and “inerrancy” being applied to scripture. These again are non-biblical terms applied by man to fit scripture into a theological pigeonhole that projects certain inappropriate expectations onto scripture. Why do this when scripture provides more than enough descriptions of itself to perfectly establish its source, its authority and its nature?

    Why have I brought up this issue with these examples? Because I think it matters! Because I think it’s a very serious issue.

    Because, maybe, if we stick as closely as possible to biblical language to describe biblical concepts, we would be less likely to introduce so many of man’s assumptions into our doctrine: assumptions that arise from our chosen terminology rather than the text of scripture.

    * full article here, including a statement on why “total depravity” is also a manmade theological term that distorts what scripture reveals:

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