Are You A 'Grace Grinder?'

Are You A 'Grace Grinder?' September 5, 2005

by: John Schroeder

On Saturday, Jollyblogger linked to Scott McKnight’s post at Jesus Creed and confessed to being, from time to time, a “Grace Grinder.” Here are some of McKnight’s defining characteristics of a “Grace Grinder.

“These people can’t talk about grace without emphasizing that we are wretches;
they can’t read Yancey’s What’s So Amazing?? without saying it isn’t the whole story;
they can’t preach obedience without saying this isn’t works;
they can’t talk about grace without talking about all those who are on their way to hell;
they can’t preach love without showing holiness is behind it all;
they can’t talk about grace without reminding us that it is all for God’s glory and that God didn’t have to do this and that we ought to consider ourselves lucky;

I’ve added some emphasis where I believe I am particularly guilty.

David confesses to being very convicted by this post. While I understand the point here, I am not sure I am entirely convicted.

First of all, grace really is not the whole story. There are five “Solas” of the Reformation: Scripture Alone, Christ Alone, Grace Alone, Faith Alone, and God’s Glory Alone. If we fail to acknowledge all, we run the risk of an unbalanced and minsunderstood faith.

This is, in fact, where I think the concept of “Grace Grinding” has arisen. Sola Gratia has come to be so overemphasized, and so misunderstood that some sort of balance must be made. Here, I think; however, is the true heart of the matter. McKnight says

It is the sort of communication that does extol grace, God’s good grace, but it makes that grace an angry thing God has to do because he is gracious. God, being so loving but downright ticked off with humans for their sins and stiff-neckedness and hard-heartedness, is still gracious to us. That sort of idea.

Now that is a problem! I am not sure McKnight’s list of characteristics are truly indicative of the real problem. It is possible to note the weaknesses in Yancey’s book without “making grace an angry thing.” It is possible to emphisize our wretched state without portraying God as “ticked off.”

The immense grace of the Cross was preceded by tearing through the Temple courtyard. Our call is to understand the character of Christ sufficiently to understand, and model, how the destruction of the Temple was as gracious as the crucifixion. The concepts are not mutually exclusive, save in our insufficient intellects. This is not an “either/or,” but a “both/and” question. I think the best approach to the question of grace is, in fact, to learn how to embrace the complete wholeness of the Gospel message.

Composed and cross posted at Blogotional.

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